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DOI: 10.1002/stco.201210028

Roofs and faades of United States Institute of Peace, Washington D.C.

Free-form steel-glass grid-shell symbolizing a white dove of peace in flight
Thorsten Helbig Matthias Oppe

The Institute of Peaces new facility, a modern conference and an interactive educational center dedicated to the theme of peacemaking, faces the National Mall in Washington, DC and is within sight of the Lincoln, World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Veterans memorials. The building is organized around two atria, one part facing the Potomac River, the other the Mall and the Lincoln M emorial. The north atrium serves as the centerpiece for the spaces devoted to the organizations work and research, and the south-facing atrium is focused on public programs and conferences. The roof of the building features a series of undulating, wing-like elements constructed of steel frame and white trans lucent glass forming an image resembling the wings of a dove. The glass appears opaque and white during the day and glows gently from within at night. The two roofs and four curtain wall faades have been designed, fabricated and installed by seele, being responsible for the realization. Optimisation of conceptual design, structural and detailed design for the free forms of the self-supporting shell structures and the vertical facades was conducted by Knippers Helbig, Advanced Engineering.

Located at the intersection of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters, designed by Moshe Safdie and Associates, occupies the last prominent site on the National Mall facing the Lincoln Memorial. Given its extraordinary location, adjacent to

many other memorials, the building is by definition a structure that symbolically represents peace on the capitals skyline (Figure1). The atria are roofed by a series of undulating spherical and toroidal elements constructed of steel frames. Cladded with white translucent glass, the image of the wings of a dove evokes. The dove-like design is made up of various geometrical segments. Aluminium glazing bars on top of steel sections, concealed toggles and a continuous silicone joint form an aesthetically sophisticated roof glazing solution. White membranes spanning across aluminium frames suspended below the roof glazing filter the incoming daylight and scatter it evenly across the interior below. During the day, the roof surfaces appear white, at night they radiate like luminous objects (Figure2). The two roofs are supported by four glazed curtain wall faades. These have to satisfy a high blast-proof specification. The transoms of the two large vertical faades are connected to the building at the sides by adjusted tension springs. Therefore the forces transferred to the faades in the case of differential deformations between the main building structure and the faades are minimised. Furthermore the dimensions of cross-section for vertical mullions and horizontal transoms can be reduced, since the buckling length is significantly smaller. The roof overhang on the north side could not be carried on the faade because the latter is directly above the

Fig.1. United States Institute of Peace and National Mall

Fig.2. US Institute of Peace South roof and CW1


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entrance to the underground car park, supported on a long-span reinforced concrete beam. Additional loads would have overstressed the beam. Therefore, there is a sliding joint between the inward-curving curtain wall and the roof construction, to guarantee that no loads are transferred from the roof to the faade. Those moving connections were a challenging part of the design, since several expansion joint details to other materials had to be created in order to allow for the movement of the faade structure. nally the conceptual design solution was optimized by modification of the quadrangular grid, eliminating diagonal elements as foreseen within the initial design and implementation of adjusted horizontal spring connectors between vertical faades and adjacent parts of concrete structure. Grid optimisation Although both the South and North Roof appear to be free form, the shapes are a combination of toroidal and spherical cut-outs (cp. Figure4).

2Construction 2.1General
The building is organized around two atria fanning out from a corner entrance one facing the Potomac River, the other the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. The atria are roofed (South Roof and North Roof) by undulating spherical and toroidal wing-like elements constructed of steel frames and white translucent glass evoking at the image of the wings of a dove. Furthermore four vertical fa ades are located between the concrete building parts. The North Roof consists of 675m2 surface area covering the atrium between the concrete building parts A and B with a maximum span of 16.50m. Vertically the atrium is closed by a faade structure (CW2) which is located underneath the North Roof both structures are decoupled vertically. The South Roof has a total surface area of 1100m2, covers the atrium and spans 24m between the concrete building parts B and C (cp. Figure3).

Fig.4. Geometry of South Roof

Due to the regular geometry of the shape, it was possible to come up with a quadrangular grid consisting of planar quads. The grid of the south (cp. Figure5) and north roof where designed in such a way that they have as many identical structural members and glass panels as possible. Since panel sizes are small, flat cladding elements could be used producing less of a faceting effect, keeping the architectural vision of a smoothly shaped building envelope. Furthermore seele took advantage of the repetition of structural members and cladding panel geometries.

Fig.3. Overview Roof and faades

Portions of the roof also cascade off the edges. Along the south elevation facing the National Mall, one wing of the roof extends 12m away from the building. The front part of the roof is supported by the vertical faade (CW1) which is horizontally supported by a tied arch. Three 10.5m long steel props fan out from this horizontal tied arch along the faade and meet the roof near the middle of the cantilever, leaving the tip of the roof untouched. The four glazed curtain wall faades have to satisfy a high blast-proof specification.

Fig.5. South Roof and CW1 with horizontal tied arch

2.2 Design process

General The initial design was improved by carrying out intense investigations on several alternative design concepts. FiElimination of diagonals In order to stiffen the quadrangular grid and avoid bending effects, additional diagonal elements creating stiff triangles provide the most efficient structural solution.

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Fig.6. Visual MockUp

The visual impact of those elements was investigated within a mockup. As shown in Figure6 it was not possible to completely hide the diagonal bracing by covering the structure with white translucent glass and using an additional white translucent membrane on the inside. Therefore a bolted connection detail providing sufficient bending resistance along weak axis and causing no visual impact was developed. The solution was to weld together multiple-cranked steel sections for the transverse beams of the grid-shell structures beforehand and bolt the intermediate beams via end plates during erection (cp. Figure7).

Fig.8. Adjusted sliding and spring connectors within CW-1

Fig.7. Connection of transverse (welded) and intermediate (bolted) beams

Implementation of spring connectors The basic concept of a clear and reduced structure has been pursued during the complete design process. The team opted for a statically efficient solution implementing a mix of adjusted sliding and spring connectors between transverse elements of the two large vertical faades and adjacent parts of concrete structure (Figure8). By providing horizontal supports to the vertical mullions the buckling behaviour has been increased significantly (cp. Figure9). Allowing for supports with a certain degree of flexibility constrained forces transferred to the faade in case of differential movements caused by e. g. thermal effects have been minimized. The dimensions of cross-section for vertical mullions and horizontal transoms have therefore been reduced in order to achieve a transparent faade structure (cp. Figure2).

Fig.9. Buckling behaviour of vertical mullions within CW1

The quadrangular grid of the roofs consists of 200100mm steel hollow sections. Since the steel structure is fabricated in Pilsen, Czech Republic, the actual material used is categorized as European structural steel S355. Results of structural design show that it is necessary to increase the cross-section dimensions (up to solid profiles), adjust the


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structural system or use higher-strength grain-refined construction steel S460 in some local areas. Where required, special requirements regarding through-thickness direction (socalled) Zquality were implemented. The steel framework holds about 1500 triple-layered insulated glass panels, the majority of which measure 1.20 1.20m, except for custom-sized pieces along the edges. Each panel is fritted on the exterior and covered by a white translucent membrane along the interior side (cp. Figure10) that gives it a white glow when illuminated from inside at night.

3.3 Numerical simulation

Software The3D-software SOFISTIK (by SOFISTIKAG, [6]) has been used to design the entire structure. Architecturally, the roofs and faades are autonomous elements. However, it is logical to analyze roofs and fa ades within global models (cp. Figure11) in order to consider effects relevant for design and structural behavior. There is significant structural and constructional interdependence, since the curtain walls provide vertical supports for the roof structures, the roofs also have significant areas of clerestory which are envisioned to be of construction similar to the vertical faades.

Fig.10. Installation of white translucent membrane panels

3 Structural design 3.1 Guidelines and design criteria

Structural design is based on wind loads obtained by wind-tunnel tests and provided within a structural wind load study report by RWDI [1] and [2]. All other loads considered within the design have been applied in accordance to ASCE705 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures [3]. Bomb blast protection is not relevant for the design of the steel structure. Furthermore it was assumed that the resulting vertical deflections of the concrete structure (bearing structure of the roof) do not have a significant impact on the design of the steel structure, and seismic action does not govern design of the steel structure.

3.2 Materials and geometry

The undertaken analysis and design of all steel members is based on requirements given in the AISC Specification for Structural Steel Buildings [4] and Manual of Steel Construction Load and Resistance Factor Design; Third Edition; 2001 [5]. All constructed steel members are made of ASTM Designation A500Gr. C.The analysis and design has been undertaken for steel in that designation. However it must be taken into consideration that the actual material used is categorized as European structural steel S355, since the steel structure is fabricated in Pilsen, Czech Republic. The yield strength of S355 is slightly higher than the one provided by A500Gr. C.The same applies to all bolts used within the structure, being grade 8.8 according to Eurocode and A325M. This advantage of slightly higher material strength was not taken into account as structural design was carried out according to American Standards.

Fig.11. Numerical models of roofs and adjacent faades

All load combinations have been analyzed using second order theory, i.e. taking non-linear geometrical effects into account. Global structural design Because the roofs would span multiple structures and be exposed to winds blowing off the Potomac, structural analysis was a critical element of the complex design. Investigations have been made considering eigenvalues of the roof structure. The first Eigenfrequencies are similar to 2.31Hz (South Roof) and 1.70Hz (North Roof) respectively and therefore not critical for any wind-induced vibration effects. The deformation of the South Roof and adjacent vertical faades and clerestory structures within first Eigenfrequency is presented within Figure12.

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Fig.12. South Roof and faades within first eigenfrequency

Fig.14. Bolted connection of transverse and intermediate beams

Fig.15. Kicker element as used within North Roof

Fig.13. Utilization ratio South Roof, CW1 and clerestories

The quadrangular grid of the roofs consists of 200100mm steel hollow section with thicknesses between 6 and 12.5mm. Vertical mullions within CW1 are made up of 250 100mm sections with variable material thicknesses between 6 and 12mm, while 1001008mm square tubes are used for the horizontal transoms. All members have been designed to satisfy the design criteria given in the corresponding American Standards [6], [7]. The utilization ratio for structural steel elements within South Roof, CW1 and adjacent clerestories under governing load combination is presented within Figure13.

In general fabrication of the structure was very challenging, since various elements within the connection area between roofs, faades and clerestories respectively had to be made out of plates with large thicknesses or solid profiles (cp. Figure15) with special requirements to the weld seam sizes. Furthermore where required S355 had to be replaced by grain refined construction steel S460 in order to provide a sufficient structural resistance.

Ground was broken on the project in March 2008 and roof installation began in June 2009. Since the roof is going up in vast atrium spaces, a complex scaffold system had to be designed not only to fill the void between the buildings, but also to be precisely tiered to match up with the roof curvatures. The five-story, 1800m2 horizontal scaffolding is fully loaded down to slabon-grade at the parking level below the main floor. Reshoring was added in the garages to support the scaffold above. After several months of design, the scaffold took nearly six weeks to assemble. To build the roof, sections of the shell were preassembled on the ground using mostly bolted connections to minimize welding on site. Each piece was then picked up

4. Fabrication and installation 4.1Fabrication

The multiple-cranked steel sections for the transverse beams of the grid-shell structures have been welded together prior to transport and bolted to the intermediate beams via end plates during erection (cp. Figure14). The idea was to build up the system using preassembled pieces of roughly 36m2 each in surface area. Where possible onsite welding was avoided.


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Involved within project Client: United States Institute of Peace, Washington D.C. (USA) Architect: Moshe Safdie and Associates, Somerville, Massachusetts (USA) Conceptual Design: Buro Happold, New York City, NY (USA) Design, Fabrication & Installation: seele GmbH, Gersthofen (Germany)/seele Inc., New York City, NY (USA), Seele Pilsen, Pilsen (Czech Republic) Optimization of Conceptual Design, Structural Design and Detailed Design: Knippers Helbig, Stuttgart (Germany)/New York (USA)
[1]Structural Wind Load Study United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C. by RWDI (Issue: May9, 2007). [2]Cladding Wind Load Study United States Institute of Peace Washington, D.C., by RWDI (Issue: October13, 2006). [3]Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures ASCE/SEI705. [4] AISC Specification for Structural Steel Buildings. [5] Manual of Steel Construction Load and Resistance Factor Design; Third Edition; 2001. [6]Sofistik ase General Static Analysis of Finite Element Structures, SOFISTIKAG, Oberschleiheim 2007. [7]International Code Council: International Building Code 2006. [8] Knippers, J., Helbig, T.: Digital Process Chain from Design to Execution, Detail Design& Construction, Manufacturing and Design Synergies in the Building Process, ISBN9783920034331, 2010.

Fig.16. South Roof and scaffolding during installation pro cess

Fig.17. Mounting of bow-tie arch in CW1

and positioned with a tower crane. The bow-tie arch was picked up and lifted into place as a single element (Figure17). Once the entire shell was set, the scaffold is designed to allow workers to stand in each frame and receive each 90kg glass panel as it is individually picked and positioned by the tower crane. The entire project was completed October 2010.

Credits: Figure 6, 8, 1417 Knippers Helbig: Figure 3, 4, 7, 913 Timothy Hursley: Figure 1, 2, 5 Keywords: faade; roof; steel-glass structure; outstanding construction; structural design; detailed design; freeform

Dipl.-Ing. Thorsten Helbig, Dr.-Ing. Matthias Oppe, Knippers Helbig GmbH, Tbinger Strae1216, 70178Stuttgart,

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