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Virginia Beach Convention Center Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

Site Combines Innovative Building with a Nautical Experience

October 22, 2008 From American Institute of Steel Construction

The Virginia Beach Convention Center has earned national recognition in the 2008 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2), and the entire project team will be presented with awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) during a public ceremony at the convention center in Virginia Beach, VA, at 11 am on Thursday, October 23. Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEAS2 awards recognize outstanding achievements in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects around the country.

Project team members include architecture and structural engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago, IL; associate architect and engineering firm Clark – Nexsen (civil, mechanical, electrical, plumbing), Norfolk, VA; owner City of Virginia Beach; structural steel fabricator Cives Steel Company, Winchester, VA; steel detailer Southern Detailing, Goose Creek, SC; steel erector W.O. Grubb Steel Erection, Inc. Richmond, VA; general contractor Turner Construction Company, New York, NY.

The Virginia Beach Convention Center project is a National Winner in the category of Projects Greater than $75 million, making it one of only two around 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. 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.

"It's a celebration, in white, light as a feather. A structure which seems to be floating overhead and beautifully detailed," commented Lucien Lagrange of Lucien Lagrange Architects, Chicago, a judge in the competition.

Inspired by the project site adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, the 516,000 sq.-ft. building's design is based on nautical themes and seagoing vessels, along with a strong structural support for such endeavors. Images such as sails, yacht fittings, lighthouses, waves and water all find their way into the architectural design vocabulary.

Jerry Pault, vice president and district manager of the Capitol District for Hensel Phelps Construction Co., was also a judge in the competition and stated, "Brilliant architecture and detailing in this convention center. The nautical theme is both appropriate and is carried off well. It's one of the nicest looking structural steel jobs I have ever seen…great visibility and use of structural steel in this project; the eye knows why it is there."

The monumental steel-framed glass curtain that forms the front entry to the center resembles a wind-filled sail and appears to float in pools of water. Visitors walk across wooden boardwalks to make their entrance into the building, where they can stroll on carpet that evokes images of seaweed, beach towels and sand. The observation tower is reminiscent of a lighthouse; the tower of steel and glass offering breathtaking views of the ocean and beach. Exposed structural steel elements are used throughout the convention center as a common and unifying theme.

The nine IDEAS2 winners for 2008 were chosen from more than 85 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. Included in the Greater than $75 million category as a 2008 Merit winner is the Bronx County Hall of Justice in Bronx, NY.

The IDEAS2 awards are among the nation's most prestigious in the fields of architecture and engineering, 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 Virginia Beach Convention Center project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create buildings that combine beauty and practicality. The result is a facility that serves its users and community extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel."

Photos of the Virginia Beach Convention Center project will be available soon. Please contact Tasha O'Berski at AISC via e-mail, [email protected], or by phone, 312.670.5439.

For more information contact:

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


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. 

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