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San Francisco Building Expansion Project at 185 Berry Street Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

Vertical Addition Breaks Limits in Seismic Zone Building Construction

April 29, 2009 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – A building addition at 185 Berry Street in San Francisco has earned national recognition in the 2009 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2), and members of the project team will be presented with awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) during a public ceremony at the 185 Berry Street project site on Thursday, April 30 at noon. Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEAS2 awards recognize outstanding achievements in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects in the U.S.

Project team members include owner McCarthy Cook, San Francisco; architect and structural engineer Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., San Francisco; associate architect Helmuth Obata and Kassabaum (HOK), San Francisco; structural steel fabricator/erector Herrick Corp., Stockton, Calif.; general contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co., San Francisco.

The 185 Berry Street building expansion project is a Presidential Award of Excellence Winner in the category of projects $15 million to $75 million, making it the only project in the country to earn an award in this classification. Each year, the IDEAS2 awards honor National and Merit award winners in three categories, based on constructed value: projects less than $15 million; projects $15 million to $75 million; and projects greater than $75 million. In addition, a Presidential Award of Excellence for structural engineering or architectural expression may be awarded at the judges’ discretion. Each project is judged on its use of structural steel, with an emphasis on creative solutions to project requirements; design innovation; aesthetic and visual impact of the project; innovative use of architecturally exposed structural steel; technical or architectural advances in the use of steel; the use of innovative design and construction methods; and sustainable design.

“The innovative engineering of this structure sets a new threshold for vertical expansion of existing structures in a seismic zone,” commented Raymond Clark, AIA, LEED AP, of Perkins+Will architects, a judge in the competition. “This system and approach will be an opportunity for future developments in similar structures. The refined expression and detail of the architecture is striking as well.”

In December 2007, construction reached substantial completion on a technically innovative application of seismic isolation to create mass damping in the addition at 185 Berry Street. Project objectives were met to expand the existing three-story, 216,000-square-foot building by 150,000,square feet and two new stories, while causing minimal disruption to the tenant, bio-science laboratories operated by University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

The two new stories were constructed on seismic isolation bearings over the roof of the existing structure, a concept that has never been implemented in any building in the U.S. The technique enabled the new construction to perform like a mass damper, which not only permitted the new space to be constructed without requiring structural upgrade, but also improved its seismic performance capability. Most importantly, it eliminated the need for a major seismic retrofit of the occupied building underneath.

Mike Moravek, senior vice president of developer The John Buck Company, a judge in the competition, said the project “may be the future direction of engineering additions in high seismic areas.”

The use of seismic isolation as a means of mass damping a building with a new addition is truly an innovative application that set a high bar for technical accomplishment, advanced structural design and review, and collaboration among the team members. Most importantly, by applying seismic isolation in this way, it helped the owner achieve their scheduling and cost objectives on a highly constrained project.

The 11 IDEAS2 winners for 2009 were chosen from nearly 100 submissions received by architectural and engineering firms throughout the U.S. Each submission is reviewed and award winners are selected by a nationally recognized panel of design and construction industry professionals.

The IDEAS2 awards are the highest project-based awards bestowed by the structural steel industry, with the annual program dating back over 70 years to the earliest years of AISC’s existence. Roger E. Ferch, P.E. president of AISC, said, “The entire 185 Berry Street project team has shown how structural steel can be used to expand buildings that combine flexibility and practicality. The result is a facility that serves its tenant extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

Photos of the 185 Berry Street project are available upon request. Please contact Tasha O’Berski at AISC via e-mail, [email protected], or by phone, 312.670.5439.

About the American Institute of Steel Construction

The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information.


For more information contact:

Tasha O'Berski
Communications Department
(312) 670-5439
[email protected]

  San Fran 185 Berry Street