Published on November 20th, 2014 | by UC&D Magazine0
Salt Lake City’s new Public Safety Building (PSB) has gained national recognition for its use of structural steel and was presented an award from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) October 29. The award is the highest honor bestowed on building projects by the structural steel industry in the U.S. and recognizes the importance of teamwork, coordination and collaboration in fostering successful construction projects.
According to Kevin Miller, President of GSBS Architects of Salt Lake, design architect on the PSB, the award signifies how steel can be both aesthetically pleasing while offering optimum safety and security in the event of a major earthquake. The building is designed far beyond building code requirements to maintain operational capability after the maximum credible earthquake with a 1,500 year return period. In layman’s terms, this means that Salt Lake City’s first-responders will immediately be back at work after a 7.5 earthquake, which scientists predict will befall the valley at some point.
Miller said this is the second time a GSBS design has earned an AISC award; the first was for the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, completed in 2001.
“In both instances the use of steel is really unique and sort of at the cutting edge with what you can do with steel,” said Miller. “The way steel addressed the ultimate resiliency of this building and ability to survive the maximum credible earthquake – we could not have done that with any other building material.”
Beyond safety, steel is a key design element with curved tubes and tapered columns, but ultimately for a project like this, steel is fundamental to survival. Miller said PSB is not only a sustainable, net zero building, it is one that demonstrates the idea of building resilience.
“During the past few years, design resilience has entered the architectural vocabulary as a reaction to numerous traumatic events: flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Events like these remind architects that no matter how energy efficient a building is, it’s not sustainable if a major earthquake should strike. Our innovative use of steel is part of the creative solution.”
PSB was built by Salt Lake-based Okland Construction; SME Steel of West Jordan provided steel fabrication and erection services.
Mountain Accord Seeking Public Input
Imagine a highly efficient transportation system – a high-speed train – that connected current Front Runner and Trax stations in the Salt Lake Valley to nodes at the base of the seven major ski resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons and Park City – even perhaps connecting ski resorts like Alta and Brighton via a tunnel through the mountain. Sound grandiose?
According to Laynee Jones, Program Manager for Mountain Accord (MA), construction on such a project could begin by Summer 2018. Jones addressed members of the Associated General Contractors of Utah November 12 at the AGC’s annual General Contractor’s Luncheon, which confirmed nominees for 2015 leadership positions.
Jones, a civil engineer who has worked previously for firms like HDR and Lochner in Salt Lake, said the MA project is something that needs to happen to ensure better future transportation options for Utah residents and tourists, and to help influence the way Utah is developed, with an emphasis on higher density, transit- oriented developments.
“How are we going to manage and access our canyons in the future?” asked Jones. “On the transportation side, we’ve got problems. We need to be planning ahead.” Beyond the winter season, which hosts millions of visitors, traffic during the rest of the season has increased. Jones said Snowbird’s popular Oktoberfest, which saw a record number of visitors in 2014, is an example of year-round activity at Utah resorts.
She said this rail network could be tied into Utah’s existing 140 miles of rail in the valley, including 15 commuter rail stations and 50 light rail stations.
“This is a way to make development in those nodes more attractive and change development patterns, so 40 years from
now more people live around (transit- oriented) developments,” she said.
Mountain Accord is a multi-phase initiative that seeks to make critical decisions regarding the future of the central Wasatch Mountains. It will evaluate and address issues and goals centered on four topic areas: environment, recreation, transportation, and economy. MA is a collaboration between public and private interests, including state and local governments, federal agencies, and business and grassroots organizations. Public involvement is an important component of this effort, and input received from the public will be used to inform and guide the process.
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will occur over the next three-plus years at a cost of $6 and $17 million. In January, MA will seek input from the public, whose approval is critical to the process. Jones said she visited Switzerland last April to view the Jungfrau cog rail system, which includes single track alignment in some sections, further minimizing impact on the environment. She said the system is an overwhelming success, and blends in well with the mountains. The potential cost of a comprehensive rail system connecting ski areas would be “in the B’s (billions),” Jones said. MA has received $3 million in funding from the state, and $1 million per year from other local partners; it is also seeking private funding for 20% of the program budget.
‘Keeping Utah Moving’
Among UDOT’s Primary Goals Utah Department of Transportation Director Carlos Braceras introduced a new vision statement at UDOT’s annual conference October 28-30 at SouthTowne Expo Center: Keeping Utah Moving.
“We need to find ways to do things better,” said Braceras. “Transportation solutions – it’s an all-encompassing term. It’s critical that our transportation system works well. It’s critical to our economy and the things important to our lives.”
Braceras’ comments came during the first day of the three-day event, which attracts industry professionals within the transportation sector, including designers, contractors and suppliers. He talked about how Utah has made enormous strides in improving its overall transportation system – roads, highways, bridges and mass transit – in the past 15 years, since the completion of I-15 Renovation dating back to the early part of this century. He mentioned an article from Newsweek that ran during the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, which essentially stated that “the people in charge of transportation must be the smartest people on the planet, because transportation just worked,” Braceras was quoted as saying. “The reason it worked in the eyes of the media is because it wasn’t a mess, it wasn’t a story.
UDOT’s three major areas of focus remain: Zero Fatalities (also Zero Crashes, Zero Injuries); Optimize Mobility; Preserve Infrastructure.
“Nothing is more important than safety,” Braceras added, mentioning an event he attended in conjunction with the Utah Department of Health where parents of teenagers killed in accidents on Utah’s highways and roads spoke. He called it “one of the most difficult events” he’s ever attended, and hopes people will continue to put safety as priority one.
“We are going to broaden UDOT’s efforts even more,” he promised. “We will soon begin training UDOT employees on a behavioral program, from people in the field to the office. Zero injuries on a job – it’s a pretty aggressive goal. It’s a change of culture.”