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SEAOI presents annual Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards

The Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI) recognized several engineers and projects at its annual Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards at the 2017 Awards Dinner on June 3.

The association also recognized three individuals for exceptional contributions to the profession.

Awards were presented as follows, with judges’ comments in italics:

Jurors’ Favorite/Most Innovative: JTI Headquarters, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Ti headquarters switzerland
TI Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Image courtesy of Hufton + Crow

…A true marriage of dramatic architectural expression and structural engineering savvy,
resulting in a striking and exciting piece of urban architectural ‘sculpture’.
…Just spectacular. The nested trusses and double-cantilever design are only two of the
features that make this unusual marriage of bridge engineering and office construction
an eye-catching success.

Best Renovation/Retrofit Project: Hard Rock Stadium, by Ruby+Associates, Inc.

hard rock stadium
Hard Rock Stadium Miami Gardens, Florida, Ruby+Associates, Inc.
Image courtesy of Hillsdale

Impressively innovative and ambitious construction engineering achievement, in very
short construction timeframe.

Best Bridge/Transportation Project: Kentucky Lake Bridge, by Michael Baker International, Inc.

Kentucky bridge
Kentucky Lake Bridge Cadiz/Trigg Counties, Kentucky Michael Baker International, Inc.
Image courtesy of Portal

… elegant bridge design, equally matched by the innovative construction methodology.
…The sequencing and seamless installation expertly complemented the stylish, baskethandle design and built-in seismic flexibility.

Best Project — >$150 Million: River Point Tower, by Magnusson Klemencic Associates

River point tower
River Point Tower Chicago, Illinois, U.S Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Image courtesy of MKA

…Impressive wielding of structural engineering prowess to tackle significant site
constraints, yielding an elegant structural / architectural design.
…Creating a new downtown landmark on a site that had scared off developers for

Best Project — $50 Million to $150 Million: Chicago Riverwalk, by Alfred Benesch & Co.

Chicago Riverwalk
Chicago Riverwalk Chicago, IL Alfred Benesch & Co.
Image courtesy of Kate Joyce

…Great reclamation of a long-ignored urban resource.
… Engineers famously reversed the Chicago River over a century ago. Now, they’ve
shown they still have the power to shape it to serve citizens better.

Best Project — $5 Million to $50 Million: Wrightwood Art Gallery Renovation, by Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.

wrightwood art gallery
Wrightwood Art Gallery Renovation Chicago, IL Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.
Image courtesy of Tadao and Associates

…Steel bracing preserved the architecturally significant exposed concrete and helped to
conquer yet another tight site
…Innovative brute-force structural engineering solution cleverly disguised in the finished
architectural expression.

William and Alys Lavicka Award: Duke University Chapel, by Wiss, Janney, Elstner
Associates, Inc.

Duke Chapel
Duke University Chapel Durham, NC Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
Image courtesy of WJE

… Impressive marriage of historic structural analysis methodology and state-of-the- art
computer analysis
… A beautifully efficient project that ingeniously honored its budget as much as its
historically significant canvass.

Awards of Merit:

  • Hancher Auditorium Replacement Facility, by Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.
  • Hanking Center Tower, by WSP (formerly Halvorson & Partners)
  • The Robey + Hollander, by FOREFRONT Structural Engineers
  • South Air Traffic Control Tower, by exp US Services, Inc.
  • Union Station Transit Center, by Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • The Viceroy Hotel, by FOREFRONT Structural Engineers, Inc.
  • Willis Towers Watson – Feature Stair, by Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.

SEAOI also presented three special awards including:

John F. Parmer Award recipient – William F. Baker

SEAOI says this annual award recognizing an individual whose career has been acknowledged by his or her peers as an example of excellence in the field of structural engineering.

Bill Baker, a structural and civil engineering partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, has led the structural engineering practice for more than 20 years. Since joining the firm in 1981, he has dedicated himself to extending the profession of structural engineering through design, research, teaching, and professional activities. Baker is best known for the development of the “buttressed core” structural system for the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest manmade structure.

David Horos, past president of SEAOI and director, structural engineering, SOM, said that Baker’s colleagues describe him as brilliant, passionate, innovative, perceptive, and committed. “In addition to his practice, Bill has spent untold hours working to better the profession by serving on committees, writing papers, and teaching. He has also encouraged and supported others to do the same,” Horos said. “He wholeheartedly supports SEF and SEAOI and recognizes the importance of each to our community. I hope you’ll agree that Bill is very deserving of this award.”

SEAOI Service Award recipient – Robert G. Lukas

The SEAOI Service Award is given to individuals for outstanding contributions to SEAOI or to the profession of structural engineering in Illinois.

Robert G. Lukas, principal at Ground Engineering Consultants, Inc., earned both a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering at Northwestern University, and holds PE licenses in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, and Kentucky.

Lucas has published dozens of articles in his career. His expertise in geotechnical projects includes dynamic compaction, pressuremeter testing and interpretation, pile and drilled pier foundations and slope stability analysis. He has participated in re-analysis of six earth dams for the Corps of Engineers in Ohio, where slope stability and seepage studies were undertaken, in ground improvement recommendations and monitoring of over 300 projects where dynamic compaction was used as a site improvement technique, and in making geotechnical recommendations for nine flood storage projects for the Soil Conservation Service.

Lukas also has also been involved with analyzing capacity and monitoring pile installations for over 300 projects and interpretation of pressuremeter tests to predict settlement of over 1,000 projects. His research involvement includes a twod-year project to prepare a user’s manual on dynamic compaction for the Federal Highway Administration, and a 2 ½ year study for the Federal Aviation Administration on thickness design procedures for airfields containing stabilized pavement components.

Outstanding Young Engineer Award recipient – Patrick Ragan

In 2008, SEAOI introduced an Outstanding Young Engineer Award to honor a young engineer (aged 35 or younger) who is recognized by his or her peers for outstanding achievements in structural engineering.

Patrick Ragan, an associate with WSP (formerly Halvorson + Partners), with nine years of experience, has been integral in many of H+P’s tallest and most complex structures, such as the UAE Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo and the World Trade Center in Abu Dhabi (21st tallest tower at 381 m).

Carrie Warner, who nominated Patrick on behalf of H+P, said: “It is rare that a young engineer is actually a driver … for innovation of large and complex projects at an early phase in their career – but Patrick Ragan is one rare engineer! His profound conceptual understanding of structural behavior is complemented by a creative mind, a practical approach and a personal drive to carry new ideas into reality… Already, clients and design collaborators appreciate the high level of analytical and design expertise he brings to each project, as he enables their architectural design innovation through his own innovative engineering. Patrick undoubtedly has a spectacular future career ahead that will make an innovative, lasting impact on the built world and profession.”

The 2017 Panel of Judges: Academia – Catherine Wetzel, associate professor, 1st Year M.Arch curator, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT); Architecture – Matthew Dumich, senior architect, Adrian Smith Gordon Gill; Construction/Development — Donald Redar, division leader, concrete restoration, Bulley & Andrews; Government – Daniel Burke, deputy commissioner/chief engineer, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT); Media – Rob McManamy, editor-in-chief, Builtworlds; and Structural Engineering – Jon Boyd, CEO, Klein & Hoffman.

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