Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Engineering Marvel Being Built in Toronto

More and more often in our cities, the need for development clashes with the desire to save our shared architectural heritage. Our forefathers having inconveniently established architectural gems on land which would later become much more valuable than the buildings which sit on it. This conflict is addressed in the addition to Toronto’s Queen Richmond Center. In the images accompanying this post, one can see the proposed office building perched above the historic 4-storey masonry building.

But does this structure constitute an “engineering marvel” as the article suggests? Here I come down firmly on the negative. That this is being built this way did not confound my expectations of what is possible in field of structural engineering. However, I do wish to applaud both the client and architect for the boldness of their thought. I congratulate them for committing substantial funds to such an innovative and unique design. It is for these qualities I wish to celebrate the building, as it signals how a group of people value good design.

“The obvious solution of using conventional columns would not work since a large size and number of columns would have been required. What consulting engineer Stephenson Engineering Ltd and Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects Inc decided to do was to use a series of 70-foot-tall “delta frames”, each comprised of one-metre-diameter tubular steel columns shooting up through the new development’s atrium (already a part of the four-storey structure) to support the new tower. With high lateral stability, the tubes that make up the delta frames are positioned at angles to intersect each other at midpoint for improved gravity and lateral force resistance. The key to the strength of these steel tubular columns is that they will be filled with concrete to increase load-bearing capacity.”

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