gb&d article: Design with Steel and Come Out on Top
Green Building & Design (gb&d) posted an article on their website titled Design with Steel and Come Out on Top discussing the benefits of designing with steel. The main benefits discussed in the article are:
- Steel lasts. Many Bohlin Cywinski Jackson clients love steel, and Kirk does, too. “A lot of our clients wish to build for perpetuity and we are not interested in suggesting materials that are not going to last,” he says. Steel is among the most reliable materials out there, and of course it can be recycled after its service life.
- Steel lets you problem solve in creative ways. Take, for instance, a fieldhouse project Bohlin Cywinski Jackson completed for the Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, where the entire steel framing system is exposed to view. Using steel, something as simple as a sunshade can be transformed (pg. 34). Bohlin Cywinski Jackson attached exterior shades built of small carbon steel and stainless steel angles, supporting diffuse translucent panels to a standard manufactured curtain wall system, a remarkable feat in and of itself on this modest project for a Quaker institution interested in sustainability.
- Retrofit and redesign are easy with steel. How do you work with older masonry buildings that tend to be more opaque, highlighting their beauty while still achieving something new and exciting? Use steel.
- Steel invites you to get detailed. It’s always a pleasure to work with exposed structural steel elements and find ways to create lightness and delicacy with detailing you can only achieve with steel. “It’s pretty amazing in terms of shaping steel, shaping the membranes, shaping the connections,” Kirk says. You can even get really granular, asking questions about welds or bolting. This is where the architects can have all kinds of fun working with the client and the structural engineer on a journey to make a truly great building.
- Steel can be both grand and graceful. “There’s just something tactile, something to the scale of working with steel that is appealing,” Kirk says. “There is always the desire to achieve that emotional resonance within architecture, and materials play a big role.”
- Steel is efficient. The overall efficiency of steel—both in design and environmental footprint—is another big win for architects. “For mid-rise buildings such as hotels, apartment complexes, and hospitals, cold-formed steel is often used. Many of these steel assemblies are fabricated offsite with little variation, translating to less onsite labor, assembly time, and overall cost in addition to a lot less waste,” Thimons says. “Steel’s high strength-to-weight ratio means using less material to accomplish the project goals when compared to competing materials, and smaller profile structures allow for longer spans and wider bay areas, which are less intrusive on the usable space of a building.”