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Missoula, Mont., Corner Condos Project Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

August 13, 2013 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – The Corner Condominiums, a triangular-shaped, mixed-use multifamily residential and commercial/retail development in Missoula, Mont., has earned national recognition in the 2013 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 building on Thursday, August 15, at 11 a.m.

Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEAS2 awards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects across the country. The IDEAS2 award is the highest, most prestigious honor bestowed on building projects by the structural steel industry in the U.S. and recognizes the importance of teamwork, coordination and collaboration in fostering successful construction projects.

The project team members include:

  • Owner: Eric & Cheryl Hefty, Missoula, Mont.
  • Owner’s Representative, Architect and General Contractor: Eric Hefty & Associates, Missoula, Mont.
  • Structural Engineer: Apex Engineering Services, Inc., Missoula, Mont.

The Corner Condominiums project is a Merit award winner in the category of projects Less than $15 Million, making it one of only eight projects around the country to receive the Merit 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 from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective, with an emphasis on: creative solutions to project’s program requirements; applications of innovative design approaches in areas such as connections, gravity systems, lateral load resisting systems, fire protection and blast; aesthetic and visual impact of the project; innovative use of architecturally exposed structural steel; technical or architectural advances in the use of the steel; and the use of innovative design and construction methods.

With its steel frame and weathering steel exterior, The Corner Condominiums corners the market on cool elegance in Missoula, Mont. Clad in distinctive weathering steel panels, the development, an urban infill project on a triangular site near downtown Missoula, is a fitting capstone at the end of the linear commercial area known as the “Hip Strip.”

“Because of the constraints of the site and program, we didn’t even consider any other structural system but structural steel,” said Eric Hefty of Eric Hefty & Associates, the local owner and architect of the development completed in the fall of 2011. The three-story project includes 7,822 sq. ft of residential space on floors two and three with 4,900 sq. ft of commercial/retail on the first floor.

A subtle influence on the vision for the distinctive steel-framed project was a visit the project’s developer and architect made years earlier to Bannack, a celebrated Montana ghost town. The image of a steel clad sidewall of a building that had weathered to a beautiful rust-colored patina sitting in great contrast to the monochrome gray color of the rest of the town lingered long in his memory.

But many factors lead to making structural steel the material of choice for the project:

  • A complex triangular building shape.
  • Having longer spans and restrictive column spacing for the underground parking and juxtaposing triangular building on top of a rectangular parking grid.
  • Multiple staggered floors and changes in floor elevation going from three levels to five and back to three levels.
  • Using very basic erection equipment and not being allowed to encroach on the two adjacent arterials. (This was simplified with accurate steel fabrication and mostly bolted steel connections.) The steel structure was built “around” a wheeled crane, which eliminated traffic disruption.
  • The extensive glazing of the exterior walls combined with the narrow building profile required the use of three moment frames and four rigid frames.
  • The height limit imposed by the city required the team to squeeze the floor-to-floor height to 8 ft, 10 in. at the five levels of bedrooms. The steel frame allowed the design to incorporate “coffered” ceilings to gain height. Even with that tactic, the ceilings were within a couple inches of the maximum allowed height.
  • Green roofs with heavy dead loads required structural steel framing. Heavy planter loads on the courtyard over parking required heavy structural beams.

“A visually stunning palette of color and geometric complexity,” commented Brian Raff, marketing director for the National Steel Bridge Alliance, AISC’s bridge division, and a judge in the competition.

The 13 IDEAS2 winners for 2013 were chosen from nearly 100 submissions received from 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 more than 70 years to the earliest years of AISC’s existence. Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of AISC, said, “The entire Corner Condominiums project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is a mixed-use development that serves its purpose extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of The Corner Condominiums project are available upon request by contacting AISC’s Tasha Weiss at 312.670.5439, [email protected]. To learn more about the IDEAS2 awards and to view all of this year’s winning projects, visit www.aisc.org/ideas2.

Missoula, Mont., Corner Condos
Photo Credit: Mark Bryant Photographics and Eric Hefty & Associates


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. 

130 East Randolph St. Suite 2000
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Phone: 312.670.2400
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