The Judges in the 2019 Engineering Excellence Awards Competition have selected 529 Broadway for an ACEC New York Gold Award in the category of Structural Systems.

Nike 529 Broadway is a new 6-story, 55,000 square-foot, commercial building at the corner of Broadway and Spring Street in the heart of SoHo in New York City. The ornate terracotta facade morphs along the façade from small punched openings, common in historic masonry buildings, into a glass curtain wall, reflecting the openness ratio of later cast-iron buildings in the district. The exposed structural steel moment frame is fully integrated into the interior design, where stacked open spaces and views out to the street create a unique urban shopping experience for Nike.

The property is 50 feet wide by 150 feet long. The column grid for a commercial building of this width would typically consist of two bays (i.e. three column lines). Here, however, the frame is supported by only two column lines which are inset 11 feet from each of the four sides. The floors cantilever out from the columns to the perimeter at every floor. The imaginative design also features numerous large floor openings that yield lofty double- and triple-height atrium spaces. The perimeter contains numerous long spans of double-bays adjacent to floor openings. Since the façade sits eccentrically on the steel, the spandrels are susceptible to torsion and weak axis bending, therefore custom steel plate box tubes were fabricated and installed using torsional connections.

The unusual structural design looks effortless and achieves an elegant exposed structure on the interior that complements the base building architect’s understanding of history and the tenant’s modern image. The architect hoped to construct a visual essay on “the quantum leap of technology between 1852 and 1872;” the meticulous and cutting edge structural design achieved this end. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission enthusiastically approved the design after only one session, praising the building as a “brilliant piece of architecture.”

This LEED Certified building is a small structure that contains an immense store and looks at first glance like it was always there. It replaces a two-story 1935 “taxpayer” – a cheap low-rise structure intended to generate enough revenue to cover property taxes – built after demolition of an ornate 19th-century hotel, which the new Nike building recalls architecturally.

This construction site was spatially constricted – Broadway is a busy commercial avenue with subway tunnels below grade; Spring Street is narrow and crowded with tourists and shoppers. The design team carefully coordinated the excavation and construction sequence with the contractor, since there was limited space to stage large and heavy equipment. Moment connections were designed to enable easier and faster erection using a combination of shop-welded/field-bolted and direct field-welding of beams to columns. While the structural framing plans appear quite straightforward at first glance, the tightness of the site and restraints on member sizes resulted in creative connections for the most efficient use of labor and materials. The Contractor likened it to building a Swiss watch.

The unique structure not only accommodates Nike’s modern retail use, where shoppers are impressed by a 50 foot long display of sneakers or can visit the half-court where shoppers may try out high-tops by shooting hoops with a Nike-branded athlete, it also provides versatility of uses for future occupants. 529 Broadway is “one of the most exciting and intelligent structures to be built for decades, anywhere,” said Blake Gopnik, The New York Times.