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American Physical Society Wins ACEC Engineering Excellence Award

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The Judges in the 2016 Engineering Excellence Awards Competition have selected American Physical Society for a 2017 ACEC New York Diamond Award in the category of Structural Systems.

The American Physical Society (“APS”) renovated their existing 30,000 SF headquarters and added 18,500 SF above it. This Facility employs 150 people in Ridge, NY. APS is a non-profit scientific organization founded in 1899 to “advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics.” The Long Island Pine Barrens Preservation Act prohibited expanding the building’s footprint, hence the addition had to occur above the existing structure. To meet the $11 million budget the leasing of temporary space and the employee relocation was eliminated from the project. The entire construction, including installation of the new columns, floor and roof framing, was achieved with the building occupied and in operation.

The existing structure – footings, columns, roof framing and lateral system – did not have the capacity to support the second story additional loads above. The design allowed the new steel to be installed without disrupting the building’s ongoing use. The long-span design with a column grid – up to 38’ x 62’ – results in spacious, column-free, and architecturally flexible interiors with minimal penetrations through the existing roof and ground floor. The majority of the perimeter columns were located outside the existing building walls, forming an exoskeleton. The new second floor is elevated 4 feet over the existing roof, providing a 4-foot interstitial space with mechanical systems that serve both the existing building below and new structure above.

The exoskeleton supports hung eco mesh panels made of woven wire mesh with a unique bridge wire for stabilization. These “green screens” will carry native vines, enveloping the complex in a green blanket. This screen also mitigates solar heat gain from the building’s façade.

The collaboration between the architect’s talent for aesthetic emphasis and the engineer’s innovative structural design resulted in a state-of-the-art, high-performance and cost effective facility. The clients are pleased with their new space, “a design that reflects timeless sophistication.” It is worth noting that the Chicago Athenaeum has awarded The American Physical Society’s Editorial Headquarters with the 2015 American Architecture Award and the American Institute of Steel Contractors named the project a winner of the IDEAS2 Award for excellence in steel building design and a budget less than $15 million.