Haunches and Hangers

by Lee Slade, Vice Pres.; Walter P. Moore & Associates, Inc., Houston, TX,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1989, Vol. 59, Issue 3, Pg. 64-67

Document Type: Feature article


The $210 million VA Medical Center at Houston features a structural system as innovative for the 1990s as the interstitial space concept was in the 1960s. The medical center, designed for 1047 beds, replaces nearly 60 old buildings on the VA campus with 1.5 million sq ft in one seven-level structure. Early decisions about the project included use of steel rather than concrete for the frame, use of interstitial floors to organize the utility distribution system, and a two-phase construction schedule. The structural task, then, was to integrate the frame into the other major building systems. A completely new structural system design met the challenge. It is based on welded steel haunch girders framing between columns in one direction, composite steel wideflange beams and a composite metal floor deck. The haunches are upset rather than downset, creating a flat bottom. The interstitial floors are hung from the structural frame with 20,000 hangers chosen for their ability to be erected quickly. Phase 1 construction included the basement and first floor. In the second phase, a different contractor brought in one of the largest cranes available in the U.S. to erect the steel and the precast concrete slabs. This required reaches of hundreds of feet and blind erection techniques.

Subject Headings: Floors | Steel columns | Steel frames | Steel beams | Steel decks | Composite beams | Health care facilities | Building design | United States | Virginia | Texas

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