Design Journal Entry - Module 8 - Lavinia Pedrollo

A new shape for my convention center!

Before detailing the structural framing of my convention center, it's essential to highlight significant changes in the building's shape and facades. I opted to introduce curves while preserving a functional, rectangular/square form on each floor. To achieve this, I removed slanted walls, rounded the corners of the building, and incorporated curves to the facade. While the facade maintains a rectangular form, the use of two materials at their intersection creates an interesting sense of curvature!

Below I display a picture of the (almost) final architectural design together with the structural 3D model. I am still working on changing the egress types (doors and wall openings) as well as windows, once the shape is finalized.


Design strategy, features of the structural system, and strcutural challenges

For the design of the structural framing of my building, I opted for a steel-frame system featuring W16x26 structural columns, W14x43 structural beams, and a W14x43 structural beam system with a maximum spacing of 6’. I have attached below the schematics of the second architectural floor and I have highlighted in the image some of the design considerations (in yellow) and challenges (in red) that came up during the course of this assignment.


Design considerations:

  1. I have created a uniform grid for the structural columns, with minor adjustments to account for any irregularities arising from the building’s shape and interior features. If needed, I moved or removed columns while ensuring the overall structural integrity remained intact.
  2. I have placed the beams and beam systems of Levels 1-3 with an offset of -10" to stay below the 10" floor, while I have placed the ones at Level 4 without an offset to touch directly the roof.
  3. I ensured that no columns obstructed essential views or natural light.
  4. I have modeled the beams and beam systems around the building's openings (stairs and elevator spaces).
  5. The uniform spacing between columns creates a sense of order and rhythm, enhancing the building’s design. Visitors and occupants perceive a pleasing symmetry, which adds to their experience.
  6. I have chosen steel over other materials like wood for several reasons.
    1. Steel offers superior strength and durability, making it an ideal choice for structures that need to withstand heavy loads, like mine.
    2. It is also non-combustible, offering enhanced safety by being fire-resistant.
    3. Furthermore, steel is resistant to moisture, reducing the risk of damage from mold or rot, and is 100% recyclable, contributing to the building's sustainability (which is the main theme of the whole convention center).
    4. Also, while the initial cost may be higher than wood, the long-term maintenance and repair costs are often lower, making steel a cost-effective choice in the long run.
  7. II'm still debating about whether I want to leave the steel exposed without any covering, mainly for aesthetical purposes

Finally, the main structural challenges I encountered were:

  1. The need to establish an equidistant grid for column placement while dealing with an uneven distribution of spaces within the building. These irregularities included rooms of varying sizes, as well as openings for stairs and elevators.
  2. The clashes between the architectural and structural models. Hence, adjustments in the architectural model were needed to resolve clashes with the structural model (like doors conflicting with structural columns).

Structural Framing - 3D Views


Interior Views - Examples