Kansas City Bank Tower Features Water-Filled Columns, Exposed Spandrels

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1976, Vol. 46, Issue 1, Pg. 58-62

Document Type: Feature article


In this first article in a series on recent innovations in structural steel design, the spotlight is on the 20-story Mercantile Bank Tower in Kansas City. This structure features several unusual concepts: liquid-filled columns; flame-shielded exposed spandrel girders; and a unique steel space truss. The 18-ft-deep space truss transfers the weight from 24 columns in the upper 16 floors to the five base columns and the core. The five columns are 60 ft long, are cruciform in shape, and are fabricated from four standard wide-flange shapes. The columns are filled with a solution of water and antifreeze. This system of column fire-protection proved to be more economical than covering the columns with fire retardant material and cladding with steel covers. The flame-shielded girders serve a dual function of structural component and wall enclosure. While acting with the exterior columns to resist all the wind forces on the tower, these exposed members provide 50% of the exterior wall. Innovations here are applicable to many other office buildings.

Subject Headings: Municipal water | Urban areas | Kansas | United States

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