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Newport Beach Civic Center and Park Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

April 30, 2014 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – The Newport Beach Civic Center and Park in Newport Beach, Calif., has earned national recognition in the 2014 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 in the civic center’s Community Room on Wednesday, May 7. A reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. followed by the awards program at 6 p.m. The event will feature remarks by city officials and a presentation on the project’s design by the structural engineer and architect.

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: City of Newport Beach, Newport Beach, Calif.
  • Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, San Francisco
  • Structural Engineer: Arup, San Francisco
  • General Contractor: C.W. Driver, Irvine, Calif.
  • Steel Fabricator and Erector: SME Steel, West Jordan, Utah (AISC Member/AISC Certified Fabricator/AISC Advanced Certified Steel Erector)
  • Steel Fabricator: Southwest Steel, Henderson, Nev. (AISC Member/AISC Certified Fabricator)
  • Steel Detailer: Pro Draft Inc. (AISC Member)
  • Bender/Roller: Albina Pipe Bending Company, Inc., Tualatin, Ore. (AISC Member)


The Newport Beach Civic Center and Park is a National award winner in the category of projects Greater than $75 Million, making it one of only three 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 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.

Standard steel wide-flange shapes and hollow structural sections (HSS) were adapted to complement the architect’s vision while providing sustainable building features through coordinated multi-disciplinary services provided by the structural engineer. The iconic wave-shaped roof form that covers city hall and provides ample outdoor shelter was created by bending W10 sections in double curvature with multiple radii. Each wave roof perches over a Vierendeel truss crafted from W10s that allows for operable, north-facing clerestory windows and a place to nestle dimmable lighting. Penetrations in the webs of wide flanges were used for conduit and fire sprinklers.

The flexibility and control over the lighting and mechanical systems made possible by the carefully coordinated structural steel design will save the LEED Gold Certified city hall building an anticipated $85,000 a year on operating costs.

“What a wonderful vibe created by the curved roofs and light structure,” commented Steve Anrod, a senior project manager for Clayco Corp., Chicago, and a judge in the competition. “Makes me want to go sailing!”

The City of Newport Beach offices are on display alongside perimeter public corridors stretching the entire length of the building and vertical circulation cores. To complement this open expression, the majority of the steel structure is proudly on display to exhibit its purpose and function. The aesthetic desire for slender vertical supports around the perimeter of the building is achieved with tapered-end round HSS and a simple pin connection at the base built up from steel plates.

The buckling restrained brace (BRB) frames were made to fit the structurally required core area within the architecturally desired round HSS casing size. Exposed BRB’s with pin connections are prominently displayed at the entrance to the Community Room, in all of the repeated cores and in private offices. The steel skeleton forms a sculpture that demonstrates to occupants how both gravity and lateral earthquake forces flow from the roof down to the foundations.

To prevent obstruction of sightlines to the Pacific Ocean, the already-sloping site was carved away so that the two-story structure steps down 18 inches at every bay. This led to a stepped diaphragm at the second floor, which coupled with the discontinuous wave roof diaphragms provided a challenge of delivering diaphragm forces to the BRBs located in the cores. Diaphragm forces from each wave roof segment are collected through pinned ended round HSS collectors that double as chords. The gusset plates of these pinned collectors were structural elements highlighted by the architect by elongating the plate further into the core areas. At the steps in the second floor where the public edge of the core has very few horizontal connection points, the pedestrian bridge ramps, designed with wide-flange girders, were used as sloped funnels for diaphragm forces. The scissor stair in each core was carefully detailed with a ground floor sliding base plate to allow for the two inches of inter-story drift.

The 60-ft span pair of tensioned cable trusses allows for a column-free, 150-seat space for public gathering in the council chambers during city council meetings. The unobtrusive trusses are constructed with a thin-tensioned-rod bottom chord, cruciform struts made from steel plate, and a built-up plate and back-to-back MC section top chord. The wall behind the dias bench is the formwork for the iconic sail. The curved-in-plan sail support wall is assembled out of vertically canted rectangular HSS sections and square HSS special concentric braced frames.

The existing public library was expanded to create an area for children and private reading spaces in the 17,000-sq.-ft, two-story, wide-flange steel moment frame addition. A café and credit union will serve the community in the new main entrance that opens up to the new Civic Green. Tapered steel plate girders of the roof cantilever in excess of 50 feet in two directions over a single exposed steel built-up column prominently displayed at the entry doors, forming a dramatic entry canopy that thins down to a 6-in. architectural fascia.

Scattered through the 14 acres of restored wetland park are three simple profile steel pedestrian bridges and a steel girder bridge that connects two parcels of park land that are separated by a main thoroughfare. The sightline-friendly, low-profile San Miguel Bridge was designed with two major wide-flange girders that span 150 ft from the abutment anchored on the north end to the elevator tower on the south parcel. The main girders fly over the top of a pair of wide-flange cantilever beams embedded in the concrete shear wall elevator tower and cantilever out to form a 52-ft observation platform that has striking views to the Catalina Islands.

The 12 IDEAS2 winners for 2014 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 Newport Beach Civic Center and Park project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is a structure that serves the city extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of Newport Beach Civic Center and Park 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 winners, visit www.aisc.org/ideas2.  

Newport Beach Civic Center
Photo Credit: David Wakely Photography

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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.

One East Wacker Dr. Suite 700
Chicago IL 60601
Phone: (312) 670-2400
Fax: (312) 896-9022
www.aisc.org