Central Arizona College’s Maricopa Campus Wins National Steel Building Award

April 15, 2015

(Chicago, IL) – Central Arizona College’s Maricopa Campus has earned national recognition in the 2015 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 campus on Thursday, April 23, at 1:30 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 campus’ project team members include:

  • Owner: Central Arizona College, Coolidge, Ariz.
  • Architect: SmithGroupJJR, Phoenix (entered project in the competition)
  • Structural Engineer: PK Associates, LLC, Consulting Structural Engineers, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • General Contractor: CORE Construction, Phoenix
  • Steel Fabricator and Erector: S & H Steel Co., Gilbert, Ariz. (AISC Member/Certified)

Central Arizona College’s Maricopa Campus is a Merit award winner in the category of projects costing $15 Million to $75 Million, making it one of only seven 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.

“A sterling example of architecture in harmony with its environment made possible through the elegant expression of ordinary structural steel shapes,” commented IDEASawards judge, Peter G. Lynde, P.E., vice president and corporate director of Albert Kahn Associates, Inc., in Detroit.

Master-planned for significant growth in the next 20 years, this new ground-up satellite campus for Central Arizona College is planned for over 700,000 sq. ft on 200 acres at full build-out. The initial phase consists of three academic buildings and a central plant constructed on 28 acres.

Totaling over 76,000 sq. ft, the first phase includes teaching laboratories, classrooms, a café, a bookstore, a library, a learning center, interactive distance learning classrooms, student services, administration offices and a multipurpose community room. This community room bookends the main entry with the library, acting as a beacon for the greater community and promoting education.

Rustic natural colors and weathering steel allow the buildings to blend with their surroundings, and long cantilevers highlight the steel design, providing both shade and outdoor student gathering spaces. Wide-flange steel shapes are tapered at the ends to provide an elegant and sleek look, and canted walls give the buildings a natural aesthetic while strategically blocking the southern sun exposure. Clearstory windows on the north side of the buildings allow natural light into the interior spaces, as do four large light scoops in the classroom and lab areas.

Steel roof framing was constructed with a layered approach in mind to give the spaces a light and airy feel. Hollow structural sections (HSS) were placed on top of sloping wide-flange steel girders to give the effect of the roof deck floating above the main structure, while allowing the metal deck flutes to run parallel to the main structure. This layered approach allowed the use of long continuous members, thereby reducing the number of connections and associated welding. Connections were carefully designed to accomplish both functional load requirements while providing an appealing aesthetic appearance. The main walkway is covered by a 30-ft cantilevered roof canopy, constructed of sloping wide-flange steel beams supported by canted steel columns, and provides visual continuity between the buildings.

The IDEAS2 award dates back more than 70 years to the earliest years of AISC’s existence. And about this year’s winning college campus, Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of AISC, said, “The Central Arizona College Maricopa Campus project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is academic facilities that serve the college extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of the Central Arizona College Maricopa Campus project are available upon request by contacting AISC’s Tasha Weiss at 312.670.5439 or For more information about the IDEASawards and to view all of this year’s winners, please visit


For more information contact:

Dani Friedland
Director of Marketing Communications

American Institute of Steel Construction

The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a non-partisan, 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, market development, and advocacy. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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