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Gaining the Benefits of Structural Steel


There’s always a solution in steel.

American Institute of Steel Construction
One East Wacker Drive Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601

Structural steel as a framing system for open-deck parking structures?

When the AISC first represented the structural steel industry at the International
Parking Institute Conference and Exhibition in 2001 that question was often asked.
Structural steel framing systems for open-deck parking structures were not common
and many parking professionals had never even considered structural steel as a
framing system alternative.

There were some areas around the country where structural steel-framed parking
structures were being constructed. Post-tensioned decks on structural steel frames
had been used successfully in the Pittsburgh area for several decades. Over the
previous 10 years hybrid systems utilizing pre-cast double tees on steel frames had
grown in popularity in New York City and New England. But the majority of parking
professionals throughout the U.S. knew little of steel-framed systems.

What a difference seven years makes. Today, structural steel-framed parking

structures are being built in all parts of the country. The market share of steel-framed
parking structures has quadrupled. Owners and developers are actively investigating
steel as a framing system and discovering the multitude of advantages that steel
brings to the table—cost savings, accelerated construction schedules, quality,
security, and sustainable construction. Structural steel leads all other materials in
recycled content and conservation of natural resources.

And the conversations at conferences and exhibitions have changed. The quizzical
T here’s al ways a s ol ut io n i n s te e l.

looks have been replaced by “how to” questions and discussions of recent projects
completed with structural steel.

I hope you will take a few minutes and read through the case studies in this booklet.
They truly document the successes that have been experienced when structural steel
becomes the material of choice for parking structures.

John Cross
Vice President

Printed on recycled paper.

Affordable Aesthetics By Steve Myers

Steel provided necessary flexibility in construction and aesthetics for

this 700-space parking structure in Lewiston, ME.

s the city of Lewiston, ME second vertical stage could be easily ac-

Steel’s Advantage
planned construction of its Platz Associates architects and Shel- complished when the need arose, and the
700-space Park Street park- ley Engineering, Inc. structural engineers use of ornamental panels could provide
ing structure, aesthetics, as had worked together on many previous a great deal of design possibilities. The
well as cost and the ability projects, including Lewiston’s 612-space design team was also confident that the
to be built in phases, were major design Chestnut Street steel-framed parking expressiveness of painted structural steel
considerations. structure. The overriding criterion for the could add visual interest to the city.
Located 30 miles north of Portland, Chestnut Street project was cost, which is A city-appointed building commit-
ME, Lewiston was once a mill town. Like why structural steel was chosen over pre- tee called for the structure’s perimeter
many other mill towns, its downtown cast concrete. walls to look like storefronts. By taking
suffered as the mills closed. Renovation Cost was also a major consideration advantage of the flexibility afforded by
of a vacant downtown building for use for the Park Street facility. The city’s bud- structural steel, the designers were able
as a district courthouse was seen as a po- get precluded a brick closed structure, to simulate the rhythm of a downtown
tential boon to the area’s comeback. The which increased the challenge of design- streetscape within budget. Vehicular and
master plan identified a two-acre surface ing a facility that would meet the city’s pedestrian entrances, stair towers, arch-
parking lot as the site for a new parking stated design goals. It was also decided es, and ornamental panels were hung
structure, as well as an incorporated city to build the structure in two phases, as between the steel columns. Some of these
bus station, for the courthouse and other the projected parking demand would not panels are pre-cast to provide the texture
expected development. immediately require all 700 spaces that of brick, while others are steel grills of
Because few of the downtown buildings were programmed for full build-out. several different patterns. This was meant
are over four stories high, skeptics worried From its experience with the Chestnut to break up the façade into distinct verti-
that a new structure would overwhelm Street parking structure, the design team cal sections. With different heights, these
the surrounding buildings. In response to knew the advantages of structural steel. sections reflect the scale and proportions
these worries, the RFP for design services In addition to initial cost being less than of neighboring buildings.
specified that the structure be designed other structural systems, maintenance The northeast corner of the facility is
with a “brick façade treatment” to make it costs could be reduced with proper plan- anchored by a 2,400 sq. ft city bus station.
more compatible with its surroundings. ning at the construction stage. Building a Although they are two distinct buildings,

separated by a load bearing masonry fire- The engineer and architect coordinated wear layer was applied to the entire sur-
wall, the bus station is integrated into the their design work to detail and locate all face, and the deck is vented to allow the
design of the parking structure both visu- connections between the perimeter orna- concrete to release moisture.
ally and structurally. It is constructed of mental steel and the structural steel. The The Park Street parking structure was
the same structural steel system, which is typical note, “coordinate with architect,” completed August 2003 at a per-space
exposed as a design element in the inte- was not used on this project. The coordi- construction cost of $8,350. Not only did
rior. The lower portion of the perimeter nation was done up front, which was re- it meet the city’s strict budget and pro-
walls is brick, a tie-in to the ornamental flected in the results—the steel fit-up was vide necessary parking, it also has made
panels of the parking structure. The inte- nearly perfect, with all field connections a positive contribution to the cityscape of
gration of these two buildings is another being bolted. Lewiston’s downtown. 
indication of structural steel’s flexibility. Megquier & Jones, an AISC member
and the project’s steel fabricator, worked Steve Myers is a development planner for
Framing Plans closely with the architectural pre-cast Platz Associates.
The basic framing arrangement for the panel subcontractor to ensure the con-
three-level parking structure consists of nections between the structural steel and
City of Lewiston, ME
wide-flange columns spaced 18’ on cen- pre-cast panels would fit up correctly. By
ter, with wide-flange girders spanning bringing the pre-cast subcontractor into Architect
60’. Filler beams span the girders at 8’ on the process early, misalignment and field Platz Associates, Auburn, ME
center. The perimeter spandrel beams are welding were avoided, which reduced
Structural Engineer
all W12s, giving the structure a light and the need for field touch up of the paint.
Shelley Engineering, Inc., Westbrook, ME
airy feel. The structural and ornamental steel was
Shelley Engineering designed all steel protected with Tnemec’s advanced Se- Engineering Software
connections in advance of the shop draw- ries 73 polyurethane paint system over RAM Structural System
ings. Connections, such as shear tabs at Tnemec’s 90-97 zinc primer. The paint
the filler beams, were selected over dou- was factory applied with minimal on-site
Megquier & Jones, Inc.,
ble-angle clips so that when each filler touch up.
South Portland, ME, AISC member
beam was rotated into place it would not The floors of the parking structure are
scratch the paint on the girder. galvanized metal deck with cast-in-place General Contractor
The lateral system consists of end plate 6” reinforced concrete slab. To reduce Granger Northern, Inc., Portland, ME
moment connections and vertical braces. long-term maintenance costs, an elastic


parking structures

The Better

steel parking
are stong
contenders in
today’s parking

G 5
GIVEN THE STATE OF RISING COSTS Galvanizing of 60-ft to 80-ft girders is climates, the owner’s next step in the deci-
FOR CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION now common, accommodating almost sion process is to develop the quantitative
MATERIALS, protracted delivery schedules all designs. The actual turnaround time analysis and evaluate exact initial costs. The
for precast, and shrinking maintenance bud- to galvanize is usually less than five table on the next page illustrates the cost of
gets, many owners are requesting a viable working days. hot-dip galvanized frame design compared
alternative parking structure design. Steel is to precast concrete design.
such an alternative and although surrounded
by many misconceptions, its strengths posi-
6 Steel designs are overall lighter in
weight, meaning fewer and/or smaller
Life-Cycle Cost
tion it as a long-term solution. Even though the initial cost of galva-
For a number of qualitative perfor-
mance-related reasons, steel—and in
particular hot-dip galvanized steel—is
7 Galvanized coatings are aesthetically
appealing not only for the structural
members, but also for stairways, exte-
nized steel is favorable to precast concrete,
responsible design requires the investigation
of other coatings to protect the steel from
a good choice for many parking struc- rior mesh panels, and guardrails. corrosion. Although not necessarily the case,
tures. Here are my top 10 reasons you various paints are generally viewed as ini-
should consider a galvanized steel park-
ing structure:
8 Painting structural steel means costly,
scheduled maintenance and lost rev-
enue. Galvanized steel is maintenance-
tially less expensive than hot-dip galvanizing,
and while initial cost is often the decisive
factor when selecting a corrosion protection
1 Galvanized steel has demonstrated a ver-
ifiable durability for decades in a variety
free for 50–80 years.
system for steel a garage, there are other
of environments, including coastal and
industrial. Learn more in the SteelWise
9 Life-cycle costs of galvanized steel
frame parking structures are two to
three times less than precast. Life-cycle
costs that dwarf this initial funding outlay.
Those costs are associated with a series of
scheduled maintenance costs necessary to
article “Are You Next” in the September
costs of galvanized steel frames are two protect the steel from corrosion over the
2006 issue of MSC at www.modern-
to five times less than painted structural planned service life. For maximum protec-
steel frames. tion of the asset, plans should be based on an

2 Castellated beams often used in steel

design create an open and light-filled
atmosphere where patrons feel safer.
10 Galvanized steel framing is initially
10%–20% less expensive than pre-
ideal maintenance cycle. For paint systems
an ideal cycle calls for touch up, mainte-
nance painting, and full-repainting prior to
cast construction.
visual evidence of substrate steel corrosion.
3 Galvanized reinforcing steel in decks
means no unsightly spalling and no cor-
roding seams between deck panels.
Initial Cost
Once the qualitative analysis reveals that
However, on most projects a practical, less
rigorous cycle is used, and this means main-
tenance is conducted when the coating has
a galvanized steel frame is maintenance-
4 Steel garage construction schedules are
free for decades and does prevent corrosion
for many decades, even in harsh coastal
deteriorated to the point where the project
looks to be in disrepair and iron oxide (rust)


Comparison of Initial Costs structural sections, and alkyds may be the
standard of past projects. But once the field
Concrete Cost1 Concrete Cost2 HDG Cost Range3 is narrowed to a couple of optimal coating
($/sq. ft.) ($/sq. ft.) ($/sq. ft.) systems according to desired performance, it
Atlanta 33.85 37.77 28.65 – 32.23 is important to use all the financial tools and
Baltimore 37.21 42.04 31.70 – 35.66 models available to quantify future costs as
Boston 46.28 48.84 38.05 – 42.80 accurately as possible, especially with main-
Charlotte not available 32.32 25.86 – 29.09
tenance budgets shrinking and substantial
long-term costs.
Chicago 43.43 47.19 36.25 – 40.78
One tool is the Life-Cycle Cost (LCC)
Cleveland 40.34 42.42 33.10 – 37.24
Calculator now available at www.galvaniz-
Denver 38.14 40.48 31.45 – 35.38 As the URL implies, this site
Dallas 33.68 35.66 27.74 – 31.20
will compare the initial and life-cycle costs for
Detroit 42.11 45.33 34.98 – 39.35
over thirty (one-, two-, or three-coat) paint
Kansas City 41.30 43.73 34.01 – 38.26
systems to hot-dip galvanizing. A unique
Los Angeles 42.91 45.12 35.21 – 39.61 feature of the software is that it allows the
Miami 34.81 36.59 28.56 – 32.13 user to customize the input to fit his/her par-
Minneapolis 45.03 47.40 36.97 – 41.59 ticular project exactly. Input variables include
New Orleans 34.73 36.50 28.49 – 32.05 total size in tons or square feet, surface prep-
New York 52.49 55.73 43.29 – 48.70 aration type, structural steel component size
Philadelphia 45.83 48.33 37.66 – 42.37 (small, medium, large), and planned service
Pittsburgh 39.05 42.33 32.55 – 36.62 life of the project. The calculator allows the
St. Louis 41.68 43.22 33.96 – 38.21 user to input in either metric or U.S. units.
San Francisco 48.84 51.42 40.10 – 45.12 The primary driver and input variable
Seattle 41.74 44.02 34.30 – 38.59 of the life-cycle cost calculation is the cor-
National Average 41.23 42.25 33.39 – 37.57 rosion data for the project’s environmen-
tal location. If a parking structure is in a
RSMeans, Reed Construction Data
Parking Structure Cost Outlook for 2007 - “An Inconvenient Truth,” Joey D. Rowland, P.E. rural area, corrosion rates are low because
American Institute of Steel Construction - estimate of lower corrosive elements in the air. For
a garage in an industrial area, aggressive
is visibly evident. For a hot-dip galvanized and tear on the project and the toll environ- corrosion may be initiated by sulfide and
corrosion protection system, maintenance is mental corrosive elements have taken. That chloride emissions from production plants,
normally not required. may mean earlier-than-planned mainte- including high levels of automobile/truck
To determine the timing of practical nance based on the accelerated testing. exhaust. There are four input options for
maintenance, most paint coating systems Comparing one system to another can the environment and all correspond to cat-
have been tested in a laboratory using accel- be an arduous number-crunching exer- egories described in ISO 12944-2 “Classifi-
erated corrosion mechanisms. To be sure, if cise further complicated by the various cation of Environments.”
the testing indicates that a touch-up paint- performance characteristics each coating The financial component of the LCC
ing should be performed in year eight, a system provides. A three-coat inorganic Calculator is also customizable and based
maintenance paint applied in year 13, and a zinc-epoxy-polyurethane system may have on standard net future value (NFV) and net
full repaint in year 18, the actual project may initial durability, while hot-dip galvanizing present value (NPV) calculations where the
require maintenance according to the wear provides corrosion protection inside hollow time value of money is considered. The user
selects what rate of inflation is projected over
the life of the project in order to determine
the value of money at each maintenance
time, and the average interest rate future
expenditures on maintenance could earn—
i.e., lost opportunity cost. Both are used to
calculate the more easily understood and
meaningful average annual equivalent cost
(AEAC) for each coating system being mod-
eled for any specific project.
NFV = initial cost[(1+i)n}, where i = infla-
tion; n = project life in years
NPV = NFV[1/(1+i)n], where i = interest
rate; n = project life in years
AEAC = NPV[i(1+i)n/(1+i)n – 1], where i =
interest rate; n = project life in years


The information on the cost of each system and hot-dip galvanizing. The LCC
paint system and its practical service Calculator output is available in U.S. dollars
sequence in years for each of the ISO or in any country’s currency. The currency
environments is contained in a database.* conversion is real-time, making the LCC
Based on the user’s selection of a particu- Calculator useful for export/import projects.
lar coating system, the software accesses
the appropriate field and incorporates the
data into the life-cycle calculation. There Philip G. Rahrig is the executive director of
are two options for the cost information of the American Galvanizers Association.
hot-dip galvanizing, also resident in a data-
The text of this article originally appeared
base. The user may either select the default,
in The Parking Professional (November
which is a U.S. average cost, or input any
number in dollars per lb or dollars per kg,
based on local market information. Note
Output of the LCC Calculator includes *NACE Paper #06318, “Expected Service Life and
Cost Considerations for Maintenance and New
a printable summary of all selected input as Construction Protective Coating Work,” Helsel,
well as tables containing the initial, NPV, Melampy, & Wissmar, KTA-Tator, Inc. 2006.
total project, and AEAC for the coating

The Delaney Square parking structure in

Orlando, Fla. features a galvanized steel


National Winner—Less than $15M

“Transparency is the word here.”

Richard Strode

tation Place Garage is an integral part of a wall of folded stainless steel plates to hide the struc- Owner

S mixed-use development in downtown Port-

land, Ore. The 149,670 sq. ft parking struc-
ture provides space for 413 vehicles on five park-
tural bracing from view.
Folded stainless steel guardrail panels with
laser-cut holes were designed around the building
Portland Development Commission,
Portland, Ore.
ing levels, and the design includes the potential for perimeter to mitigate headlight glare. Four-inch di-
Leeb Architects, LLC, Portland, Ore.
1,000 sq. ft of commercial space at the ground level. ameter holes filled with colored discs were designed
The 41,450 sq. ft, triangularly-shaped site cre- at headlight elevation. Lights from moving vehicles Structural Engineer
ated significant challenges. The City of Portland illuminate the colored discs at night, animating the KPFF Consulting Engineers, Portland,
required that all parking be located on flat floor building’s exterior. Colors vary by parking level to Ore.
plates—not on ramps—so the building was de- assist user orientation.
When viewed from above, more than 40% of the
Engineering Software
signed with flat one-way parking levels and an inte-
RAM Structural System
rior two-way ramp. building’s footprint is “green.” The atrium located on
During Portland’s meticulous design review pro- the third parking level is 1,812 sq. ft in area and is
cess, the review commission set out the following open to the sky. The top parking level has 2,411 sq. Detailer
requirements: ft of planter space and 8,887 sq. ft of trellis, for a Pro Draft, Inc., Surrey, B.C., AISC mem-
1. Exposed structural steel diagonal bracing was combined “green” area of 13,110 sq. ft. ber, NISD member
not acceptable. All exposed structural steel is finished with
shop-primed zinc-rich primer and field-painted with
Detailing Software
2. Glare from vehicle headlights had to be screened
Tekla Structures
from view. high-performance moisture-cured polyurethane to
3. Vehicles parked on the top parking level had to withstand Portland’s mild climate and wet winters. Fabricator
be screened from the view of residents in nearby Once construction began, weekly meetings were Fought & Company, Inc., Tigard, Ore.,
high-rise residential buildings. held with the steel fabricator to identify and resolve AISC member
Concrete shear walls were placed in the build- potential issues, ensuring that the preparation of
shop drawings and fabrication remained on sched-
General Contractor
ing’s interior to address most of the structure’s lat-
Andersen Construction Company, Inc.,
eral loads. However, architects did not want to place ule. The project included 1,069 tons of steel, and
Portland, Ore.
a large concrete shear wall along the south façade, more than 1,300 shop drawings were prepared.
which is the most prominent of the building. Instead, The total construction cost was approximately $9
exposed diagonal steel braces were designed for the million—around $21,910 per parking space.
lateral load, and the architect designed a full-height


parking structures

Taking it to the

Parking capacity is expanded at a growing university

hospital thanks to hybrid steel and concrete design.
CHANGE IS A FACT OF LIFE, PARTICULARLY WITH disrupted or relocated during construction, every phase of
LARGE, GROWING ORGANIZATIONS. To sup- construction activity must be carefully coordinated.
port expansion and all the benefits that come with it, it’s At Ruby Memorial Hospital, the teaching hospital for
essential to have parking facilities that can keep pace with West Virginia University Medical School in Morgantown,
changing programs and use requirements. It’s also critical W.V., the growth of the university’s state-of-the-art cancer
to construct those facilities in a manner that maximizes treatment programs demanded expansion of the parking
convenience and safety, minimizes maintenance costs, and facility serving the hospital; the hospital’s campus had been
leverages the full potential of the land they’re built on. augmented with the addition of a new cancer center build-
In congested urban areas, surface parking lots are often ing, a structure that was built on land previously used for
viewed as less-than-ideal uses for open land. As a result, surface parking adjacent to the hospital.
multi-level parking structures are frequently the preferred With real estate at a premium and the demand for park-
option. Building an urban parking structure can, however, ing growing quickly, it was essential for the hospital to
pose some formidable challenges. Unlike garages built in maximize the capacity of its existing parking garage. How-
suburban settings, urban garages must fit onto tight land ever, since the parking structure was landlocked by the
parcels surrounded by existing structures. In addition, they cancer center, other nearby hospital buildings, and the uni-
must be constructed vertically to provide enough parking versity’s football stadium, a horizontal expansion was out
capacity and revenue potential to justify the cost of con- of the question. Instead, it was necessary to expand parking
struction. Finally, because many of the structures surround- capacity within the footprint of the existing structure, and
ing parking garages typically house businesses that can’t be at the same time maintain access to the hospital’s emer-


gency room, which emergency vehicles accessed through the first Churches agreed with Tsupros that significant reinforcement of
level of the garage. the structure would be needed to support the weight of the addi-
tional parking level. He then worked with Tsupros and his team
Creating a Hybrid Strategy from the Ground Up to devise a reinforcement strategy that would deliver the required
Simply adding another level to the existing parking garage support and weight distribution, and to evaluate structural systems
was, however, not an easy task. When Carl Walker Construction that could be married to the existing precast components.
designed and built the original structure in 2003, the client decided Within a few weeks, Tsupros returned to Ruby Memorial Hos-
not to include foundation structures designed to accommodate pital with a comprehensive plan that would accomplish those goals
future vertical expansion. At that and allow the new deck to be added
point in time, the cancer treatment to the structure. The hybrid con-
facility was not yet on the drawing struction strategy would directly link
board, and it was anticipated that A steel-framed, post- support of a new steel-framed, cast-
the capacity of the garage would in-place concrete post-tensioned
effectively meet the needs of the
tensioned slab system can deck to the existing foundation, and
hospital for years to come. But by would not place additional stress on
2005, as the hospital was putting
be a good solution when the precast columns already in place
the final touches on its new cancer in the center of the garage. It would
center, it became apparent that the
foundation loads are an issue. also minimize the overall weight
existing 225-space parking struc- of the additional deck and would
ture lacked the capacity necessary provide a framework to mount and
to support the parking volume created by the additional building. secure a series of precast panels. Those panels would seamlessly
Aware of the foundation limitations and unwilling to demolish the integrate with the existing building finishes and make the post-
entire structure and start from scratch, the hospital contacted Carl tensioned system essentially invisible when the job was complete.
Walker Construction. The client challenged them to revisit the The project estimate was $2 million, or approximately $19,000 per
original designs of the building and provide a solution that would additional parking space.
accommodate the construction of another parking level that would
provide 105 additional spaces. Bringing Together Old and New
“Due to the weight considerations involved with the precast After receiving the client’s approval on the budget and the inno-
structural components, we knew from the outset that we couldn’t vative design strategy, the demolition and strengthening phases of
simply add another level using the same type of structural system,” the project quickly commenced in January of 2007. Throughout
observed Len Tsupros, president of Carl Walker Construction. the entire construction process, the garage remained open to hos-
“The foundations of the garage—and in particular, the network of pital visitors, staff, and emergency vehicles.
precast beams supporting the center of the structure—were not “To install the new structural columns in the center of the
heavy enough to handle the additional load. We needed to devise a garage, we began by using a Bobcat outfitted with a jackhammer to
structural system that was lighter in weight than the cast concrete break through the concrete floor on the first level between each of
components. We also needed to design a way to effectively attach the eight previously installed precast columns,” remarked Tsupros.
that structural system to the existing garage. Whatever approach “This allowed us to auger down, expose the grade beams that com-
we took, we knew we couldn’t do anything without significantly prised the original garage foundation, and pinpoint areas where
reinforcing the center supports.” cast-in-place concrete columns could be directly attached to the
To meet the challenge, Carl Walker Construction turned to the grade beam system.”
project’s original engineer, Charles Churches, P.E., for guidance. Once the concrete column bases were positioned on top of the

WVU’s growing medical campus prompted the need for more parking. The expansion to the garage added 105 parking spaces.


grade beams, the construction team inserted rebar cages around Once the new precast-clad, post-tensioned structure was
each junction point. Then, it backfilled each cage with concrete, installed, work began on constructing the steel-reinforced park-
which flowed around each grade beam and locked the column ing deck surfaces. Shear studs welded to the steel members make
bases into position. When the concrete had cured in and around the new slab act compositely with the steel. The concrete slab was
the cages, the team then poured concrete up to the floor level to supported by a temporary framing system that fit snugly between
close the holes. With firm footing in place, the team then con- the steel beams supporting the new deck. When the concrete
structed the concrete columns that would rise through the top cured, the framing was removed from the underside of the new
deck of the precast structure, cutting through the existing decks to deck. The construction phase of the project was completed by
provide raceways for each new column. May of 2007. One month prior to completion, cars were allowed
With the reinforcement phase of the project complete, Century to park on all but the top level of the newly expanded garage.
Steel Erectors and Carl Walker Construction began installation Project clean-up and punch-list items were completely addressed
of the structural steel that would form the framework for the new by August 2007.
post-tensioned parking level. The steel beams were connected to
the new cast-in-place concrete columns—shear studs are welded to Well-Received Results
the girders—then bolted and welded in place to ensure structural Tsupros was also pleased with his firm’s accomplishments on
stability. At the same time, the original elevator bank was extended this project. “This job required some out-of-the-box thinking, as
up by one floor with the installation of an additional precast con- well as a considerable amount of coordination between the client
crete section that was lowered into place by crane. and our strategic partners,” he said. “The end result, however,
When the structural steel and the elevator shaft extension were illustrated how marrying two different structural systems can
completely installed, precast panels were trucked to the worksite expand the capacity and lifespan of existing parking structures.
and hung on the steelwork to integrate with the appearance of Our approach allowed Ruby Memorial Hospital to leverage the
the original façade. Both the steel erection and precast installation potential of their original precast structure and to obtain the
phases of the project were carefully scheduled to minimize pedes- additional capacity they needed to support their enhanced ser-
trian and traffic obstructions, and to maintain ingress and egress vice offerings.”
from both the garage and the hospital’s emergency department. “I would encourage anyone who currently has a precast park-
Lateral bracing for the new level was accomplished with the ing structure to consider the potential of a steel-framed post-ten-
connection to the existing precast light wall and the precast façade sioned addition if they need additional parking capacity and are
panels. The panels have rods inserted at the floor level and are also facing foundation and structural load limitations.”
composite with the floor slab. This also provides for the bumper
restraint requirement at the perimeter. Len Tsupros is president of Carl Walker Construction.



INSPIRATION I’ve been interested in engineering since SOIL Both the Newark Liberty and the JFK
I was a kid – I was always building things. My dad was International airports have poor soil. So we designed
the maintenance engineer for the building we lived in the structures to be supported on steel tapered tube
and he had this great workshop. I spent a lot of time in piles and pile caps. These can withstand the bending
there with him. And I remember when anything was forces even if the soil liquifies in a seismic event.
being built, I watched – I wanted to see how it was Because steel is light and requires less of a foundation,
done. When they installed the storm sewer in the street it cuts the weight of the structure and is perfect for
when I was a kid, I went down and just sat there those locations.
watching it all. SEISMIC For these garages, we moved the stairwells
Joseph M. Englot, P.E., Asst. Chief Engineer/Design, Port Authority of New York and and elevators to the exterior and designed them to be
self-supporting in case of a seismic event. This is
New Jersey. Responsible for 350 architects and engineers of every discipline. Leads
unique – a lot of structures use shear walls in
the design and construction of critical transportation infrastructure, fulfilling all needs of stairwells. Ours use ductile steel frames and have
the bi-state region’s businesses, residents and visitors. The field-experienced Englot worked very well. Because of this, we could open the
oversees all PANYNJ projects, ensuring budgets, schedules and quality standards are lower floors of the garage while finishing the upper
met. levels and installing the elevator equipment.
OPENNESS We can use longer spans with steel – 60-
CHOICES I knew I wanted to be an engineer since I was foot beams. People passing through the garage don’t
young. I just never knew that civil engineers did so have to navigate a forest of columns. Open grid facades
much. One day at school, we had a career fair and I replace solid pre-cast parapets. It’s more user friendly –
started talking to a guy. He was a construction more open – and lets in more natural light, which
engineer. I told him the things I wanted to do and he increases security. With steel, we also have fewer
said, “You want to be a civil engineer.” From then on, columns, equating to more parking spaces. Basically,
I knew what I wanted – to design buildings. I was 13 we can utilize more of the footprint for intended use.
years old.
VALUE Although Kennedy’s Green Garage was driven by
EDUCATION I stayed focused, graduated high school a tight schedule, it was the basis for Newark Liberty’s
and looked into engineering programs in the area. P4 Garage— and is now the standard system. But
Brooklyn Polytechnic offered me a scholarship to a because cost is always a tremendous concern, we
specialized program where I earned my bachelor’s and performed a value engineering analysis. The results
graduate degrees at the same time. It was a heavy were great! The independent VE panel concluded that
credit load – this is the most efficient design in terms of cost per
I was taking my grad courses during junior and senior square foot and space economy when compared to
years. But I wanted to get into the world and find a job. other systems.
PORT AUTHORITY Working for the Port Authority was STEEL In 1996, we had 18 months for the
my first job – I’ve been here 31 years. Even growing up design/bid/build process for the Kennedy Green Garage
in Queens, I wasn’t familiar with all their facilities. and it had to fit into the location visually and
When I thought of the Port Authority, in my mind it was functionally. So we fast tracked the design and
the bus terminal on 42nd Street. But when I concentrated on the foundation first. We issued that
interviewed, package and broke ground three months later. The
I learned that they managed so many other things – design was quick to fabricate and to erect – we only
they really drive the regional economy. used one crane and iron workers did both jobs. It went
INSIGHT If you look at old parking structures in New up so fast – it was unbelievable! We could have only
York or New Jersey, you’ll see a lot of flat-plate accomplished this with steel.
construction with cast-in-place concrete and the
resulting deterioration from corrosion. An example,
there was a parking facility that we rehabbed in 1998 at
one of our facilities with flat-plate construction. That’s
when I saw firsthand how quickly previous generations
of parking structures deteriorate. Snow and chemicals
would sit and penetrate the concrete. The shallow
covers used for parking structures allowed it to
corrode. We finally recognized that you can’t design
parking structures like you would a building. The deck
requires special protection.
PROGRESS I’ve worked on highway bridges.
The technology we began to use for bridge deck
construction 10 years ago is now used in parking
structures. A parking garage can be designed to include
the benefits of steel frames and columns using pre-cast
double-Ts. Micro-silica additives in the concrete Ts
make the deck impervious to moisture and protect the 866.ASK.AISC
entire structure from corrosion. We’ve found this saves There’s always a solution in steel.
hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs over the
lifetime of a structure – it’s a better investment.
Prescription for Parking By James Sarka, P.E.
and Roger O’Hara, P.E.

SmartBeams® were the smart solution for this steel parking structure in Vancouver, WA.
he Legacy Salmon Creek Hos- In this case, the three-bay-wide struc- frames at the low end of each ramp level

T pital campus includes two four-

story medical office buildings, a
1,500-car parking garage, a new
hospital, and interconnecting
bridges. Construction began in May 2003.
With the hospital scheduled to open for
patients in summer of 2005, this required
ture required spans of 61’-6” to 61’-9”,
with floor-to-floor heights of 10’-3”. A 3”
vented metal floor deck with 3.5” normal
weight concrete cover provided the com-
posite wear surface.
The owner and design team chose the
SmartBeams option because of the sys-
were sloped with the ramp girders in
order to eliminate difficult beam connec-
tions for the adjacent level floor framing.
Transverse braced frames for the garage
were placed at each exterior face of the
structure, with narrow bay widths used
to create optimum bracing geometry. The
overlapping schedules for each element tem’s positive attributes, including col- size and geometry of connecting gusset
of the campus. To make it work with site umn-free space, lighter structure weight plates were minimized to enhance the vi-
constraints and a peak employment of and the corresponding decrease in lat- sual appearance of these exposed frames.
over 500 craftspeople, it was essential to eral and foundation loads, fewer erection With long-span SmartBeams having
fast-track the 450,000 sq. ft, seven-story pieces, and the reduction in overall proj- been chosen for the floor plate, the archi-
parking structure to allow for parking for ect costs. tects wanted to express the same cellular
the duration of the project’s construction. look for the exposed perimeter girders.
Schedules and costs for the park- Exposed Steel Design Challenges The challenge for the structural team was
ing structure, designed to be primarily The resulting steel system made use of maintaining constant hole spacing in the
above-grade, were compared between a the established economic and schedule cellular girders while ensuring that floor
traditional steel frame, with long-span advantages of SmartBeams for the long beams connected directly to web posts.
girders and beams spanning 30’, and spans and wide-flange braced-frames for The use of SmartBeam girders resulted in
various concrete systems. The schedul- the lateral resistance system. KPFF was a cost-effective and steel weight-savings
ing advantage of erecting steel, especially especially attuned to the exposed nature option that eliminated the need for ex-
during the winter months, was a decid- of the garage and effectively applied the pensive fascia treatments.
ing factor in favor of a steel frame. structural design elements.
Design-build steel contractor R.F. According to KPFF, special concentric High Performance Coating Systems
Stearns, Inc. worked with Skanska USA braced frames in a two-story “X” config- One of the many challenges with
and KPFF Consulting Engineers to pro- uration were a natural choice for the ex- an exposed steel project is the selec-
pose an alternate steel design using posed steel project. The need to have un- tion of the coating system. The overall
SmartBeam cellular beams, produced by obstructed views inside the garage, both durability and final appearance of the
SMI Steel Products. Stearns’ history us- for driving sightlines and occupant safe- project was important to the owner and
ing SmartBeams in long-span projects ty, guided the choice to place longitudi- architect. In order to meet these perfor-
had shown the product’s excellent appli- nal frames along each side of the middle mance requirements, the design team
cation for multi-level parking structures. ramp bay. At the contractor’s suggestion, and Stearns worked together closely to

The parking structure features glass and steel
exterior cladding that required tight tolerances
for the steel frame.

select the proper coating system. While were incorporated into the design that companies. The steel erector faced the
several options were available and evalu- blended well with the exposed structural challenge of having to perform multiple
ated based on an initial specification, the steel components. These items included activities simultaneously to achieve the
decision was ultimately made to prepare landscaping panels, headlight screens, aggressive concrete-on-metal deck place-
the steel with an SSPC-SP10 (near white and a vehicle barrier system. ment schedule.
blast) surface preparation, a shop ap- The landscape panels were custom- The use of steel for parking structures
plied zinc-rich primer (Sherwin-Williams made grids for the incorporation of continues to increase, with long-span
Zinc Clad II), and a field-applied epoxy climbing vegetation. Panels were sup- systems, high-performance coatings, re-
topcoat (Sherwin-Williams Macropoxy). ported off the main building members duced foundation loads, and aesthetics
This system was chosen due to its supe- around the perimeter of the building. In among the main considerations for that
rior performance characteristics, ability order to provide protection from direct choice. The Legacy Salmon Creek Hos-
to endure the Pacific Northwest weather exposure to the elements, the panels re- pital parking structure exemplifies all
conditions, and the assurance of a consis- ceived a powder-coated finish and were of these attributes by combining unique
tent final appearance. field-bolted to the structure with stain- and pleasing architecture with the latest
less steel fasteners. in steel technology. 
Glass and Steel Tolerances Due to the proximity of the hospital
The incorporation of glass and steel and the surrounding neighborhood, the James Sarka is a project manager for R.F.
components was another challenge that owner was concerned about screening Stearns, Inc. Roger O’Hara is Operations
had to be addressed. Glass block and vehicle headlights. Placement of hori- Manager for R.F. Stearns, Inc.
curtain wall components had to attach zontal and vertical steel channel sections
directly to the architecturally exposed above the slab level and incorporation of Owner
steel framework. As a result, the allow- perforated aluminum panels at the north Legacy Health System, Portland, OR
able tolerances for the frames had to and south sides of the building consti-
be significantly restricted to match the tuted this screening. Architect
requirements of the glass components. The vehicle barrier restraint system Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership,
This resulted in extensive use of tightly consisted of 11-line, ½” diameter high- Portland, OR
controlled shop-built frames to minimize strength galvanized cables. KPFF de- Structural Engineer
the need for field locating the glass sup- signed the anchorage of these cables into KPFF Consulting Engineers,
port pieces. the steel structure. The resulting cable Portland, OR
It also included close coordination lengths allowed for a minimum number
between Stearns, Skanska USA, and the of anchorages per floor and a less intru- Engineering Software
glass subcontractor to ensure that the re- sive exterior appearance for the barrier RAM Structural System and ETABS
sulting steel framework would be within system. Structural Steel Contractor/Detailer
acceptable tolerance for glass placement, R.F. Stearns, Inc., Portland, OR,
specifically at the areas of glass blocks. Site Conditions and Schedule AISC member
The blocks were attached directly to steel Site work and three separate buildings
framing that consisted of WT sections were under construction concurrently at Detailing Software
and C-shaped bent plate sections to form the hospital campus, with all subcontrac- AutoCAD
the various reveals. The resulting place- tors sharing common access for equip- Fabricator
ment of the approximately 80’ tower was ment and deliveries. The resulting site Metals Fabrication Co., Spokane, WA,
within ½” in overall plumb and square- logistics, coupled with a tight schedule, AISC member
ness. Early recognition of these issues were challenging for each of the parties
and close coordination between the par- involved in the project. One of the main General Contractor
ties resulted in a successful completion of issues involved the proper sequencing Skanska USA Building, Inc., Portland, OR
this challenging feature. of over 150 loads of structural steel and SmartBeam® Supplier
metal decking for the garage alone. This SMI Steel Products, Hope, AR,
Architectural Components required daily coordination between AISC member
Several unique architectural features Stearns, Skanska USA, and the trucking



STRENGTH I was always amazed by the strength TIME We went through an exercise to evaluate
of building materials and how they could resist various structural system costs for the NCMC
stress. That’s one thing that got me interested in parking structure. The study covered pre-cast
engineering when I was growing up. I was around a concrete, cast-in-place post-tensioned concrete and
lot of construction with my uncle who would buy a steel frame with a post-tensioned floor. All were
properties for development of residential buildings. roughly the same cost, but the steel-framed parking
When I wasn’t in school, I was helping him. structure saved two months in construction time –
we went from a 10-month schedule down to eight
Hoshi Engineer, P.E., SE, Principal and Regional Chief Structural Engineer months – primarily due to the speed of erection
for Walker Parking Consultants’ Engineering Resources Group in Denver. Hoshi even through the winter.
oversees production of structural design, and is responsible for proactive structural COST Using steel shortens construction time,
design support, project planning, training of engineers and development of which reduces overhead expense for the contractor.
engineering design aids and standards. At the NCMC, the original scope of work was to
design a 600-car parking structure, but after
Donald R. Monahan, P.E., Vice President, Walker Parking Consultants in Denver.
project estimates came in under budget, the owner
With more than 26 years experience and 500+ multi-level parking structures to his decided to add another level to gain an additional
credit, Don has chaired the Parking Consultants Council and currently sits on the 120 spaces.
Board of Directors for the National Parking Association. EXPANSION A couple of years before we built the
steel parking structure at the NCMC, Walker
PLANNING You always look out for the best Parking Consultants did a feasibility study to
interest of the client. That means not over-building determine their current and future needs based
unnecessary parking spaces. For instance, for a on planned growth. The old employee parking
garage serving an office building, we tabulate peak area was on grade and is now the site of the new
occupancy rates through observations and surveys. medical towers currently under construction.
Then we compare that to the square footage of the A parking structure takes advantage of vertical
particular building to come up with the ratio of space and allows for expansion on an already
spaces per 1,000 square feet of flooring. But for a crowded campus.
hospital, the parking ratio isn’t based on square
CAPACITY The owner received a variance change to
footage – it’s based on the number of beds they
the city ordinance that gave the NCMC site
have. Although outpatient parking – like an office –
a setback requirement of 10 feet instead of the
is linked to square footage to determine need.
original 25 feet. City ordinances also set a height
PROCESS We find that designing a structure is limitation of 30 feet. We maximized both limits and
as enjoyable as seeing the end results. But that designed a structure that gave them 720 spaces.
depends on whom you talk to because it’s different The relative shallowness of the steel beams allows
for everyone. us to have an open structure with adequate
WEATHER A parking structure should not corrode or headroom.
crack because both will cause expensive STEEL The parking structure we built at NCMC is
maintenance problems. Slab cracking is always for the employees. Shifts start and end at different
an issue of concern. In Colorado, the snow and times throughout the day because hospitals are
road salt tracked into garages by cars can cause 24-hour facilities. Security was a major issue to
considerable damage to concrete and steel. Water address. With steel, the columns are smaller in size
leaching through cracks in slabs can drip down on than concrete – and less obtrusive. You can see
cars parked below. This salt-contaminated water around the columns and be confident no one is
can damage paint on cars. hiding behind them. The shallow profile of the floor
DURABILITY Steel frames can be a very competitive beams provides more openness, which makes the
system for parking garages. We just finished a space much easier to illuminate – another security
steel parking structure for employee parking at advantage. In this respect, steel provides a user-
the Northern Colorado Medical Center (NCMC). friendly design approach for parking structures.
In the past, some owners didn’t want steel because
it was painted with a single-coat system and the
eventual maintenance was not desirable –
repainting would eventually be required. The
advantage for steel now is that members can be
galvanized at the end of the mill run or painted
with a high-performance coating system. For the
NCMC, the members were hot-dipped galvanized
in an 80-foot cauldron. As a result, we were able
to give the owner a steel parking structure that
will effectively resist corrosion with a 125-year
service life. 866.ASK.AISC
Structural Steel: The Material of Choice