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Lamar Corporate Headquarters in Michigan Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

August 30, 2010 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – Lamar Corporate Headquarters in Hudsonville, Mich., has earned national recognition in the 2010 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 headquarters building at 10 am on Friday, September 10. 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, steel erector, and general contractor Lamar Construction Company (AISC and SEAA Member), Hudsonville, Mich.; architect Integrated Architecture, Grand Rapids, Mich.; structural engineer sdi (AISC member), Ann Arbor, Mich.; steel detailer and fabricator Van Dellen Steel (AISC Member), Dutton, Mich.; and consultant Medhi Setareh (AISC Member), P.E., Ph.D., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Lamar Corporate Headquarters is a National Winner in the category of projects Less than $15 Million, making it one of only seven projects around the country to receive the National honor. 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.

A construction company’s vision to place its corporate offices into a cantilevered space above warehouse and shop space challenged the design team to create a satisfying work environment in an unconventional structural context. As designers sought to realize the owner’s vision, guidelines were quickly established that would affect all aspects of the office design.

“This is not a building you could drive by without taking a second (or third) look,” commented Jennifer Richmond, vice president, project management, Novel Iron Works, Inc., Greenland, N.H., and a judge in the competition. “The use of steel to create the illusion of a floating building really worked to make this project a standout.”

Two 16-ft-deep, 112-ft-long cantilevered trusses were envisioned that would support the office from a vertical circulation shaft. These trusses would architecturally define perimeter office units as well as primary traffic aisles. Understanding pedestrian traffic was key to project success because the associated vibration would be the governing consideration in the truss design. This brought the truss design into the realm of predicting not only building use and performance, but the subjective responses of the office occupants.

Early dynamic analysis suggested little difficulty with lateral and torsional motions, but vertical vibration presented some concern. The most reasonable truss designs would yield vertical mode vibration frequencies in a range approaching the frequency of rapid foot traffic. One solution would have to add stiffness, but that also meant adding unwanted bulk to the members and connections, increasing both expense and visual obstructions.

The team chose as an alternative to design somewhat above the walking frequencies while also making provisions to install tuned mass dampers (TMDs), but only if the occupants ultimately decided they were necessary. In principle, no one on the team favored TMDs as an initial design solution, but there were recognized benefits in making provisions for them as a backup system.

This saved the owner from having to use massive trusses while still ensuring that a satisfactory workspace would be achieved.

With this approach in mind, a preliminary design of TMDs was provided that promised to control uncomfortable vibration under worst-case projections. The office floor system was then designed to be framed with a pair of concealed chambers that would accommodate mounting TMDs to the bottom chords of the cantilever trusses.

Extensive in-place testing performed both during and after construction to determine actual vibration characteristics confirmed that the structure is providing comfortable office use. The building opened in July 2007, and because TMD installation has not been required, the floor chambers built to house them remain unused. Even so, those chambers ultimately served the project well by allowing the design team to confidently work beyond the range of experience and uncertainty to create a workspace of unprecedented character.

The owner now enjoys a headquarters building that meets its functional needs, but also serves as a striking showcase of the firm’s skills as builders and innovators.

The 12 IDEAS2 winners for 2010 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 Lamar Corporate Headquarters project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and innovation. The result is an office building that serves its workers extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution photos of the Lamar Corporate Headquarters project are available upon request. Please contact Tasha O’Berski at 312.670.5439 or [email protected].

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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. 

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