ACEC Honors Engineering Projects

Staff | September 28, 2010

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington honored 41 projects representing a wide range of engineering achievements when the organization presented its 41st annual awards in January.

The six national-level awards (one platinum and five gold) will compete in the ACEC national competition in Washington, D.C., on April 26.

The top honor, the Platinum Award, was presented to Seattle's Magnusson Klemencic Associates for the Structural, Seismic, and Wind Engineering on One Rincon Hill, a 60-story, 618-foot-tall residential tower in San Francisco, located only eight miles from the San Andreas Fault. With only 1/4-acre allocated for the base of building, the tall, narrow structure can withstand seismic activity five times greater than the largest-ever-recorded San Francisco earthquake and utilizes a first-of-its-kind structural system.

Because the owner's requirements for floor-to-ceiling views and unit planning flexibility could not be met safely using traditional moment frames and dual system designs, MKA employed cutting-edge Performance-Based Seismic Design to create the optimum structure.

The team designed a concrete ductile core wall with four concrete outrigger columns connected by 16 "buckling-restrained braces" at Levels 28 to 32 and 51 to 55 to add stiffness and absorb energy in an earthquake. MKA selected the largest tested BRBs available to ensure maximum reliability and structural benefit, and eliminate any possible performance concerns with this new technology. A system of embedded steel erection columns and plates connects the BRBs to their outboard columns.

To counteract building sway from high winds, MKA designed two 54,000-gallon tanks to be placed at the very top of the building. The system, known as a Tuned Liquid Mass Damper, uses the oppositional movement of water "sloshing" in a tank to counteract building movement, while baffles (or screens) in the tanks modulate the flow. The team invented a system to monitor weather conditions, ground motions, building sway and torsion, and water levels in the sloshing dampers that is viewable via the internet 24 hours a day.

In working on the pieces that link the individual core wall sections into a complete structural "tube," MKA engineers developed alternative reinforcing bar detailing, modifying the method of reinforcing confinement, then organized laboratory testing at the University of California Los Angeles in partnership with the Charles Pankow Foundation and Webcor Concrete. The testing proved that the alternative detailing performed as well as traditional detailing but can be constructed more easily and less expensively. The results of this research led to a modification of American Concrete Institute's Code 318-08.

MKA pushed the boundaries of traditionally accepted engineering practices to find innovative solutions to this building's challenges. As a result, through One Rincon Hill, MKA has attained multiple achievements including the tallest PBSD building in the United States, the tallest building in the world using BRBs, the first high-rise residential structure to use BRBs, the first U.S. residential building with a Tuned Liquid Mass Damper system, and the tallest in a seismic zone. Not only did the MKA team set new engineering standards, but it did so while delivering their part of the building two months ahead of schedule and saving the client $52.63 million compared to traditional design.

National Gold Awards

The Gold Award for Studies, Research, and Consulting Engineering Services award went to Parsons Brinckerhoff for Sound Transit 2 — Regional Transit System Plan; owner, Sound Transit.

PB worked with Sound Transit to develop a high-capacity transit system plan that includes 36 miles of expanded light rail and significant enhancements to regional bus and commuter rail service. The 15-year, $17.8-billion program (year-of-expenditure dollars) was approved by the voters in November 2008.

As the prime consultant, PB provided extensive strategic advice and applied complex risk identification techniques that were crucial for this highly visible, public project.

The Gold Award for Environmental went to Magnusson Klemencic Associates for the Virginia Mason Athletic Complex; owner, Football Northwest LLC.

The training facility and headquarters for the Seattle Seahawks, the Virginia Mason Athletic Complex is the most ecologically responsible facility in the National Football League, showcasing natural ecology on the site of a previously contaminated brownfield.

MKA's primary challenge was the contaminated soils resulting from the 20-acre site's decades of use as a timber creosoting facility. The high levels of contamination necessitated significant excavation and handling of the soils, as well as carefully engineering storm water conveyance systems to both protect native salmon migratory routes and repair a neighborhood flooding problem.

The Gold Award for Building/Technology Systems went to Wood Harbinger Inc. for the Aeroman Aircraft Maintenance Facility; owner, Aeroman.

When developing mechanical, electrical and fire-protection engineering for the 118,000-square-foot Aeroman Aircraft Maintenance Facility in El Salvador, Wood Harbinger, Inc. developed solutions that utilized the country's natural elements: heat, humidity and local resources.

The team specified a translucent membrane material for the hanger roof that transmits abundant natural lighting, eliminating the need for electrical lighting during daytime operations. In addition, the membrane roof operates approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than a conventional roof system. Using the membrane material also eliminated the Fire Code requirement for an overhead fire suppression system, generating significant cost savings.

The Gold Award for Environmental went to KPG Inc. for the Shoreline Recycling and Transfer Station; owner, King County Solid Waste Division.

The Shoreline RTS incorporates multiple design, light and water strategies to generate energy, ensure safety and reduce waste. KPG's design uses daylighting with tubular skylights, translucent wall panels and a primary skylight spanning the roof to allow natural controlled light into the building. A photovoltaic array provides up to 10 percent of the energy consumption for the building, exclusive of industrial equipment. A lighting control dimming system automatically adjusts the electrical systems depending on the natural light in the building, reducing electrical consumption.

The Gold Award for Transportation went to Hatch Mott MacDonald for Section 755 S. Boeing Access Road to S. 154th Street; owner, Sound Transit.

Hatch Mott MacDonald began this crucial part of Sound Transit's Light Rail Transit System after preliminary engineering had been completed. However, extensive value engineering by HMM revealed significant configuration changes that shortened the timeline and lowered the cost. HMM proposed a single box girder to support a dual track guideway rather than two single-track girds resulting in a simple tulip-shaped column.

Using pre-cast concrete segmental technology saved the client approximately $23 million and shortened the projected 3-1/2-year build time by eight months.

National Silver Awards

Five projects on the national track earned Silver Awards.

Building/Technology Systems: Sparling, Inc. for Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend; owner, PeaceHealth.

Structural Systems: AECOM for the York Bridge Replacement Project; owner, King County Department of Transportation and city of Redmond.

Transportation: Exeltech Consulting Inc. for the East D Street Grade Separation; owner, city of Tacoma.

Transportation: Parsons Brinckerhoff for the South Lake Union Streetcar; owner, city of Seattle Department of Transportation.

Special Projects: Parametrix for Cama Beach State Park; owner, Washington State Parks and Recreation.

Best in State Awards

Gold Award for Original or Innovative Application of New or Existing Techniques: Parsons Brinckerhoff for Fremont Bridge Approach Replacement Project; owner, city of Seattle Department of Transportation. PB worked with the city to develop a rehabilitation design and construction staging approach that would allow the necessary bridge pieces to be replaced with minimal disruption to the community and 30,000 vehicles and 1,200 bicycles that cross the bridge daily.

Gold Award for Social, Economic and Sustainable Design Considerations: David Evans and Associates for Seattle International Gateway North Intermodal Yard Improvements; owner, BSNF Railway. DEA prepared preliminary engineering plans and final construction contract plans for six yard tracks that can store a complete unit train, and associated loading, unloading and stacking areas for four wide-span, electric, rail-mounted gantry cranes. These improvements increased the facility's capacity by nearly 50 percent, and throughput by approximately 30 percent.

Gold Award for Complexity: FSi consulting engineers for Renovations to Existing Airplane Paint Hangar; client, Harris Group Inc. FSi provided heating, air conditioning, and fire protection services on the $30-million, 60,000-square-foot total renovation to a 25-year-old Boeing airplane paint hangar that had been deactivated and required major renovations.

Gold Award for Exceeding Owner/Client Needs: Gibbs & Olson Inc. for Regional Water Reclamation Facility; owner, city of Chehalis. After six years of multiple sophisticated studies and analyses, the project team found that basing the discharge criteria on river flow levels rather than on calendar months provided maximum protection to the river and significantly lowered costs for the city.

Gold Award for Future Value to the Profession: Herrera Environmental Consultants Inc. for Aviation Stormwater Design; owner, Washington State Department of Transportation.

Through a grant from the FAA, WSDOT and Herrera worked together to create a stormwater facility design manual specifically for airports. This is the first manual of its kind in the United States combining stormwater management, habitat information and airport safety in one document.

Bronze and Silver Awards were also presented in the "Best in State" division.

Entries were evaluated by a panel of judges including: Dave Berg, city of Bellevue; Jeff Daggett, WH Pacific; Noel Miller, city of Edmonds; Nadine Post, ENR editor-at-Large, Buildings, Design and Construction; Jack Rafn, The Rafn Co; and Richard Whealan, Miller-Hull Architects.

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington is a professional trade association representing consulting engineering, land surveying and affiliated scientific and planning firms statewide.