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Gateway Center at Westchester Community College Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

September 15, 2011 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – The Gateway Center academic building project at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, N.Y. has earned national recognition in the 2011 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2). In honor of this achievement, members of the project team will be presented with awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) during a ceremony at the Gateway Center building on the Westchester Community College campus on Monday, September 19, at 2 pm. Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEAS2 awards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects around the country. The IDEAS2 award is the highest, most prestigious honor bestowed on building projects by the structural steel industry in the U.S.

The awards presentation will take place the week of SteelDay (September 23) – a national day of networking and learning related to the structural steel industry in the U.S. In celebration of SteelDay, AISC is hosting events across the country, including New York. In Midtown Manhattan, a networking luncheon will be held at the McGraw-Hill headquarters. Following lunch, a program on award-winning steel-framed buildings in New York -- all recent recipients of AISC's prestigious IDEAS2 Award – will be conducted. Presenters also will share their views on trends and issues shaping New York's building construction scene now and in the future. Afterwards, guests will take a site tour of the nearby International Gem Tower project currently under construction. Guests may register for this event at www.steelday.org/events. Select New York in the drop-down search menu. From there, select the event: "SteelDay Luncheon, Panel Presentation and Site Tour" and register.

The Gateway Center project team members include owner Westchester Community College, Valhalla, N.Y; architect Ennead Architects, New York; structural engineer Leslie E. Robertson Associates (AISC Member), New York; steel detailer JCM & Associates Ltd. (AISC and NISD Member), Frankford, Ontario, Canada; steel fabricators R & S Steel (structural steel) (AISC Member), Rome, N.Y., and Manufab (sunscreen panels) (AISC Member), Kenner, La.; and general contractor Worth Construction Company, Bethel, Conn.

The Gateway Center is a National Award winner in the category of projects $15 Million to $75 Million, making it one of only eight 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.

The Gateway Center is a 70,000-sq.-ft academic building on the Valhalla, N.Y., campus of Westchester Community College. The three-story building houses a welcome center, classrooms, offices, computer and language labs, an auditorium, and a café. Construction was completed in fall 2010 for a total cost of $33 million. The project has received a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainable design.

The heart of the project is a 48-ft-tall glass cube that creates a striking lobby and connects the north and south wings at two levels. Early in the project, the team began to pursue a modular design, using prefabricated elements in a kit-of-parts approach. Ultimately, the structure and architecture of the lobby became the expression of a manufacturing process. Although this idea has been explored in various ways, including through the use of shipping containers in building construction, the team settled on a more customized approach: 233 architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) “boxes” were assembled to create a light, transparent volume. The boxes were fabricated from channels and plates based on eight basic templates to maximize repetition and efficiency in the shop. Almost all field connections were made with shims and bolts, minimizing field welding and assembly time. Curtain wall connections were made to steel plate tabs that were attached to the boxes in the shop.

In addition to the boxes, the main lobby staircase and the bridge between the north and south buildings are AESS, with laminated glass treads and flooring. The bridge is supported in part by two steel hanger rods, which connect to the main stringers with custom pin and jaw fittings.

“An attractive and inviting facility that seamlessly blends modern architecture with indigenous materials,” commented Kent Long, Senior Vice President, Florida Business Unit Leader – Federal Projects, Balfour Beatty Construction, and a judge in the competition.

At the northern end of the building, the third floor cantilevers out over its base on all sides, with cantilever lengths varying from 6 ft to more than 30 ft. On the east side of the building, where the largest overhang occurs, the floor is hung from four steel roof trusses which also form a parapet wall to screen rooftop mechanical units from view.

The original design included a cantilever of more than 40 ft on the west side of the building. As part of a value engineering effort, the roof trusses in this area were eliminated, and an additional support was provided to reduce the cantilever to 24 ft. This additional support is an AESS element in an inverted tripod configuration, with three legs supported on a steel column that is embedded in a concrete wall below. Each leg of the tripod consists of two parallel plates stitched together at regular intervals with round spacer bars, creating ladder-like elements. To eliminate bending forces in the tripod, each leg terminates in a steel pin detail. The 4-in.-diameter pins are tied together at the base by a plate assembly designed to transmit gravity and lateral forces to the concrete structure below.

Steel was also chosen for an architectural sunscreen to shade the south facing façade of the north wing. The screen, approximately 19 ft tall and 160 ft long, was assembled from 13 separate panels that hang from steel supports cantilevered off the main building structure. Each panel provides shade with a field of closely spaced horizontal 3/8-in.-diameter steel tubes supported within X-shaped frames formed with steel plate. Panel connections to the base building were designed to accommodate movement due to thermal expansion and contraction.

Adjacent to the south wing of the building is one of the project’s most prominent features, a 60-ft-tall tower built of steel and clad in zinc panels. The structure tapers from 10 ft wide at the base to less than 3 ft at the top and consists of two interconnected plates built up into an 18-in. overall cross section. Along the east-facing narrow edge of the tower is a full-height LED, allowing the tower to serve as a beacon for the entire campus at night as well as during the day.

The 14 IDEAS2 winners for 2011 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 award dates back over 70 years to the earliest years of AISC’s existence. Roger E. Ferch, P.E. president of AISC, said, “The entire Gateway Center project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is an academic facility that serves its faculty and students extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

View high resolution images of the Gateway Center project in a slideshow gallery of photos available available here.

Gateway Center
Photo by Jeff Goldberg/Esto Photographics Inc.


For more information contact:

Tasha Weiss
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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