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Don’t Fence Me In — Achieving Design Freedom with HSS

on June 13, 2012


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In a recent post, I discussed the aesthetic possibilities of architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) for civil, commercial and residential building projects.

As a follow-up, I want to talk briefly about steel hollow structural sections (HSS) and their impact on structural design. HSS has the power to help architects and structural engineers break free from many design limitations imposed by other materials. Choosing HSS opens up enormous design possibilities that aren’t available when using other sections or materials.

Over the past few decades, the power of the computer has greatly influenced architects and their designs. We’re seeing more 3D designs and a trend toward “liquid architecture.” Complex and less rational structures tend to be the norm rather than the exception. This can present many challenges to the structural designers.

Hollow structural sections provide enormous architectural and design benefits:

  1. 2004OlympicGamesComplexThe bold presence of HSS and its shape becomes a visually engaging part of a building or other structure. There are numerous examples of exciting and impactful use of HSS around the world.
  2. Modern architecture often demands irregular structures with less than optimal load paths. HSS can be very forgiving in terms of its structural shape, with its resistance to torsion and multidirectional loads.
  3. A high-quality surface finish that is faster and cheaper to paint or coat allows for an economical way to express the structure.

HSS truly opens up the possibilities for architecturally exposed structural steel, allowing architects and structural engineers to meet the challenges of modern architecture and design the type of structures that break new aesthetic ground and enrich the public landscape.

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