The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Steel SpeedConnection Challenge has concluded, and the GMS team was one of three Grand Prize Winners selected for their innovative solution to structural steel beam connections.
The team – made up of GMS’ Daniel Gleave, Andrew Dolan, and Ramon Gilsanz in collaboration with Oregon State University’s Erica Fischer – came together to devise a solution that would not only make installation faster but would reduce the number of parts needed. The proposed system utilizes common materials in an unconventional way for a more cost-effective and resilient structural connection.
The result: a new steel beam connection relying on elements embedded in a concrete slab to improve fire protection and ease MEP coordination.
The advantages of the proposed system – which is fabricated with commonly available steel components – include increased fire protection, improved coordination, composite action, and floor framing size flexibility. Additionally, the solution is applicable to both beam-to-column and beam-to-girder connections, although their arrangements differ.
The connections allow for thermal expansion at the bottom of the beam, while connection plates are protected from fires through embedment in the concrete slab. Analysis by GMS and Oregon State University showed that a system constructed this way has the potential to withstand a fire without the need for fire protection material.
Beam-to-column connection. Slab not shown for clarity.
Beam-to-girder connection. Slab not shown for clarity.
By locating the connections above the beam, the steel erection would be simplified. Beams can be lowered into place directly from above by a crane, avoiding the time-consuming process of swinging pieces into place.
The system would also have benefits to future users of the space. By eliminating connection material in the web of the beam, utilities such as sprinkler lines would be able to run directly between columns within the girder webs without impacting ceiling space. They could make buildings more cost-effective and less energy-intensive by reducing the overall height without sacrificing usability.
Publication of the full research on the proposed system is forthcoming. Stay on the lookout for more information in the not-too-distant future.