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MSU Broad Art Museum Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

July 7, 2014 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., 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 at the museum on Thursday, July 10, at 3 p.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 museum’s project team members include:

  • Owner: Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.
  • Owner’s Representative: Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Mich.
  • Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects, London, U.K.; Integrated Design Solutions, Troy, Mich.
  • Structural Engineers: sdi structures, Ann Arbor, Mich. (entering firm); AKT, London, U.K.
  • General Contractor: Barton Malow, Southfield, Mich.
  • Steel Fabricator and Erector (Miscellaneous): Douglas Steel Fabricating Corporation, Lansing, Mich. (AISC Member/AISC Certified Fabricator/Advanced Certified Steel Erector)
  • Steel Detailers: The Steel Detailers, Inc., Seminole, Fla. (AISC Member); Douglas Steel Fabricating Corporation (Miscellaneous)

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is a Merit 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 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 (AESS); technical or architectural advances in the use of the steel; and the use of innovative design and construction methods.

Philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad envisioned a new museum at Michigan State University as a world-class venue for the display of modern art. The vision is more than just volume, surfaces and forms; it’s also gesture, expression and intent. So it wasn’t enough to merely bring physicality to the imagined form; it also needed to be done in a way that preserves the spirit in which the design was conceived.

Thus, the engineering of the museum became an exercise in communicating with the architect about exceedingly complex geometry in a most nuanced way, communication that took place across three building information modeling (BIM) software platforms: Rhino, Revit and Tekla. As the project developed it became evident that, because of the complex geometry, the most challenging phase of communication would be encountered during the production of steel shop drawings.

For this reason, the engineer of record advocated moving away from traditional shop drawings and instead prepared them in Tekla concurrently with construction documents. Steel bidders then had the opportunity to bid the project and also to bid for use of the drawings, which provided confidence to the owner by ensuring that a fair price was being paid for the drawings that the design team had prepared. As the Tekla-based drawings developed, the model was continually checked against the architect’s Rhino and Revit models so that when steel bidding occurred, the shop drawings were essentially already checked for every aspect of conformance with the architect’s still-developing details. With the glazing being hundreds of unique shapes shipped from Germany, and the stainless steel skin being many more hundreds of individually fabricated forms, the tolerances for construction were extremely tight. The careful BIM coordination allowed each piece to come together in a precise way.

The building frame itself is made up of a series of non-parallel sloping walls that interface with architectural concrete walls that are also non-parallel and sloping. Wide-flange shapes with gussets in the plane of the flange are used frequently, as are castellated beams. The stairs are hollow structural section (HSS) frames encased in architectural metal handrails, and cantilever off of the floor slabs and return without landing supports. HSS also served as window mullions.

“This project visually exemplifies the concept of a steel facility by dramatically enveloping the building in folded steel panels, creating an exciting interplay of shadow and light across the façade,” commented Philip Tobey, FAIA, senior vice president and a national healthcare leader of SmithGroupJJR in Washington, D.C., and a judge in the competition.

The 12 IDEAS2 winners for 2014 were chosen from nearly 100 submissions received from architectural and engineering and other project team member 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. And about this year’s winning museum, Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of AISC, said, “The entire Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum 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 its university and the public extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum project are available upon request by contacting AISC’s Tasha Weiss at 312.670.5439, [email protected]. For more information about the IDEAS2 awards and to view all of this year’s winners, visit www.aisc.org/ideas2.

MSU Broad Museum 300
Photo Credit: Justin Maconochie


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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