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Engineering Education & Research Center

Project Start and Completion Dates:  JuLy 2014 – July 2018
Project Type: Educational Building
Scope: Approximately 1,000 tons
Outcome: Fabricated and erected
Owner/Developer: University of Texas
Architect: Jacobs|Ennead Architects, LLP
Structural Engineer: Datum/Gojer

Project Description

“Transparency and unification” was the theme of the design for the University of Texas at Austin’s Engineering Education and Research Center, which has become the largest single dollar volume project undertaken on the campus grounds. As the flagship building for the College of Engineering, the infrastructure includes numerous architecturally exposed structural steel elements featured throughout the building. The state-of-the-art facility totals 432,671 square feet and consists of two, nine-story towers interconnected at the lower three levels highlighting unique structural elements of the west and interior bridges, a V-column, cantilevered switchback stairs, and the high shade canopy.  Patriot Erectors’ scope of work included approximately 1,600 tons of structural and miscellaneous steel.

Each project completed by Patriot is unique in its own respect, and the EERC was no exception. The engineering, erection and disassembly of a 14,000 square-foot temporary construction platform clear spanning 73 feet, five stories above the atrium skylight was one of many responsibilities included in the scope of work for this project, which allowed for additional construction storage, access between the towers at the upper levels, and as an erection aid for the high shade canopy. Another unique factor on this project required developing a fabrication and erection plan for the folded atrium skylight trusses, which eliminated the need for shoring. Pre-assembly of the full atrium skylight offsite to provide as-built coordination for the glass skylight panels and other trades took months of advance planning prior to actual erection in the field.

Structural steel framing was fabricated and erected throughout the facility, including:

  • Structural steel framing and composite floor decking, connecting the east end of the two towers with 76-foot clear spans at Levels 3 through 8.
  • Structural steel framing, steel joists and roof decking on the tower roofs.
  • Structural steel framing & composite floor decking at portions of Level 1.
  • Structural steel framing and roof decking for the dock canopies.
  • Structural steel framing and grating for mechanical platforms within the Level 8 mechanical penthouses.

Architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) features were fabricated and erected within the facility, which include:

  • A four-story, 76-foot span AESS bridge connecting the towers at one end. The framing utilizes diagrid style bracing along both sides of articulated steel castings at all bracing node locations, including erection of precast panel floor framing at all levels.
  • A 76-foot by 168-foot AESS folded space frame supporting the atrium skylight at Level 3 between the two towers.
  • A skewed, 76-foot span, inverted AESS trichord-style bowstring truss bridge connecting the second levels of the towers within the three-story atrium space.
  • A 76-foot by 189-foot suspended AESS high shade canopy bridging the two towers at Level 8. The steel frame was infilled with 340 perforated aluminum panels utilizing six distinct perforation patterns in a random order.
  • AESS steel pipe truss strongbacks serving as mullions for multistory curtainwall framing between the towers.
  • Built-up AESS strongbacks serving as mullions for curtainwall framing at the auditorium.
  • An AESS V-shaped column made of a slender built up plate section supporting a cast-in-place concrete feature stair in the main atrium.
  • Numerous AESS trellis

Miscellaneous steel for the project included:

  • Stairs
  • Rails
  • Site screen wall framing and green screen panels
  • Operable partition supports
  • Elevator divider beams, rail supports, mechanical access platforms, sump pit frames and ladders
  • Toilet partition supports
  • Won door supports
  • Eyebrow framing at the roof and several lower levels
  • Soffit framing
  • Relief angles
  • Parapet framing
  • Lintel and sill angles
  • CMU head restraints
  • Overhead door jambs
  • Ladders
  • Bollards

East Bridge Challenge

Beams attaching the two towers are set in pockets in the side of a concrete beam. Most pockets were placed incorrectly, and Patriot Erectors was asked to modify the steel to accommodate the incorrect pocket locations. The majority of the framing was already fabricated. To assist the customer, Patriot Erectors coordinated with the as-built locations, established the required beam modifications and modified the beams.  Most of this was performed on a significantly compressed schedule, to minimize impact to the overall construction schedule.

V-Column Stair Challenge

While not responsible for the design, Patriot Erectors’ engineer identified a potential buckling issue with the V-column after installation, which shut down access to the stairs. The cause of the concern was narrowed down to a design issue and/or fabrication tolerance issues. To ensure the project was completed safely as well as up to the customer’s standards, Patriot removed the columns, straightened them, re-installed the columns and performed additional design modifications to reduce the buckling concern, which was requested during negotiations on the issue.

This was above and beyond Patriot standard scope of expectations, but it benefited the overall project serving the customer to provide reliable performance.

Photos by Paul Bardagjy

Other Projects

Customer Reviews

The good buzz from our customers is making our ears ring, and we just had to share.

“You guys did a great job!  Very responsive and professional from the office to the field side.  It was logistically a challenging project, but it’s clear you guys are true experts in what you do and tackled it quickly and without any issues. I Look forward to working with you guys again in the near future.”

Chris Godbold

Rand Construction Corporation - Project Executive

“Very simple….WE ALL LOVE PATRIOT…”

Sandra Haltner

CEO at Haltner H.A.I., LLC, in Houston, Texas

"I know in the great scheme of things my job was minor compared to many of Patriot's projects, and yet I was treated as though it was major, and my complete satisfaction was paramount.  I could not be more pleased.  Thank you Patriot!

Michael Rooney


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