Denver Union Station Wins National Steel Building Award

October 28, 2015

(Chicago, IL) – Denver’s newly expanded Union Station Train Hall 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 station on Thursday, November 5 at 10 a.m.

Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEASawards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects across the country. The IDEASaward 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 station’s project team members include:

  • Owner: Denver Union Station Project Authority, Denver
  • Owner’s Representative: Trammell Crow Co., Denver
  • General Contractor: Kiewit Building Group, Inc., Englewood, Colo.
  • Architect and Structural Engineer: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, New York
  • Steel Fabricator: Schuff Steel, Phoenix (AISC Member/Certified)

Denver Union Station is a National award winner in the category of projects Less than $15 Million, making it one of only four projects around the country to receive the National honor. Each year, the IDEASawards 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.

“The three-dimensional curve attracts and raises the architectural feeling in me as an engineer,” commented Nasser Heydari, a doctorate civil engineering student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and the student judge in the IDEASawards competition.

Denver’s historic Union Station is a Beaux Arts landmark located on the edge of the city’s central business district and has served Amtrak and other trains for years. Its role has expanded as it is now the center of the $11 million Denver Union Station Intermodal Hub, which opened in in the spring of 2014.

The new Train Hall structure is the focal point of the station and was conceived as an efficient and formally expressive means of clear-spanning 180 ft across multiple railway tracks. An ovular steel-and-fabric canopy rises 70 ft at the head end platform, descends in a dynamic sweep to 22 ft high at the center and then rises again at the far end over a pedestrian link across the site. The primary structural system consists of 11 steel arch trusses spanning nearly 180 ft from a single, large-diameter pin connection atop 18-ft-tall arched column supports. In the central area of the train hall, the arch-trusses are replaced by cantilevered trusses, which are stabilized by bracing struts between them. Each truss is supported about 20 ft above the ground by a series of steel “kick stands,” which support vertical loads and horizontal thrust, and each “kick stand” is rigidly connected to the foundation with heavy anchor bolts. All of the trusses support a tensioned PTFE fabric.

Though the overall geometry of the train hall is a complex, seemingly free-form series of curves, the realization of this geometry was achieved by using only steel members curved to one circular radius. The curving tube members forming the complex shape of the inner oculus, for example, are comprised of tubes curved in a single plane and then rotated in space to form a more complex three-dimensional curve. The geometry of each arch truss, likewise, is defined by just two radii, which allowed it to be conveyed in simple two-dimensional plans and elevations, without the need for either three-dimensional work point schedules or exchange of electronic models.

The IDEASaward dates back more than 50 years with AISC. And about this year’s winning transit hub, Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of AISC, said, “The entire Denver Union Station project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is a facility that serves the city and its patrons extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of the Denver Union Station 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
Marketing Communications Strategist

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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