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Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine Project Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

August 4, 2009 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC) project 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 center on Thursday, August 6 at 2 pm. 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 owner University of Maine at Augusta; architect Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, Boston; structural engineer Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., Waltham, Mass.; general contractor Wright-Ryan Construction, Inc., Portland, ME.

The HHRC project is a Merit Award Winner in the category of projects Less than $15 million, making it one of only four projects in the country to earn an award in this category. 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.

Completed in late summer 2007, The Michael Klahr Center (MKC), new home of the HHRC, is a 6,000-sq.-ft, one-story building on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta. The massing for the MKC creates a bold visual exposition of the HHRC's mission to educate future generations about the Holocaust and other human rights abuses. Four flower-like petals spring from the ground around a central focal point, reminding visitors of the rebirth of freedom after the long, hard winter of World War II. As visitors leave the exhibition space, they pass beneath and through the light-filled petals into the classrooms and meeting rooms on the north side of the building. The HHRC was charged with building the MKC on a total budget of only $1.8 million, and structural steel proved essential to realizing the architect's vision for the building at an economical project cost.

The sculptural forms of the petals could have been well-suited to cast-in-place concrete, but the expense of the curved formwork and the construction schedule demanded a different structural system. Selecting steel for the petals allowed for portions of the petals to be shop-fabricated, speeding construction considerably. The petals stand partly on painted architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) bundled columns consisting of three 3-in. diameter pipe sections that diverge as they rise to meet the petals, which look like stamens to complement the flower metaphor. This effect is only possible with the slenderness that steel columns provide.

George Tuhowski of Leopardo Construction Inc., a judge in the competition, commented, "The project is striking aesthetically and an excellent example of the design flexibility that steel can provide."

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 HHRC project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create economical buildings that combine beauty and practicality. The result is a facility that serves its visitors extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel."

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 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. 

130 East Randolph St. Suite 2000
Chicago IL 60601
Phone: (312) 670-2400
Fax: (312) 896-9022
www.aisc.org