Steel Shots: Liquid Motion

Top photo: Steel framing for the main lobby of the University of Dubuque’s new Heritage Center. Bottom photo: Finished exterior of the building. (Photos courtesy of BKBM)

Surf’s up in Dubuque.

The University of Dubuque’s new Heritage Center—colloquially known as “the Wave,” thanks to its curved form—is part classroom space, part performance hall and part art gallery. The 80,000-sq.-ft structure not only plays host to music but also expresses it in its design, as the building’s curved envelope imitates a treble clef turned on its side.

From the exterior, the roof profile sets the Wave apart from its fellow campus buildings with multiple long-span convex and concave roof joists and beams, further reinforcing the musical theme while also supporting an extensive labyrinth of catwalks. The focal point of the Wave, the Main Hall, employs 50-ft joists (interrupted by a 90-ft joist girder), and joists in the black box area span up to 39 ft, 3 in.

The towering radial curtain wall wrapping much of the exterior is laterally supported by exposed curved HSS8×8×5 ∕16 girts. In the main lobby, the curtain wall is canted outward 10°, creating a space between these columns and the glazing, which is filled with sections of HSS rolled in the shape of, yes, a musical note.

For more about the project, read the article “Liquid Motion” in our current September issue of Modern Steel