Ties to Excellence

by Harry Giles, Sr. Assoc.; Buro Happold Engr. Limited, London,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 3, Pg. 54-59

Document Type: Feature article


The new Exhibition Center London (ExCeL) on the north side of the Royal Victoria Dock in London is just one of many structures altering the Docklands' landscape. The roof construction is the most unique aspect of the project. A key feature is the use of externally exposed steelwork, consisting of coupled pairs of A-frame masts and ties that support primary trusses near their midspans across the exhibition halls at 23.4-m intervals. The main roof structure consists of lattice trusses at 7.8-m intervals, supporting the deck, the main air-handling plant, and the hanging partitions for the exhibitions below. The exposed A-frames and ties consist of tubular-steel inclined masts and ties, precambered as necessary to remove any visible sag. The frame modules are located at 46.8-m centers along the entire length of the building on both the north and south sides and form the main architectural expression of the building. The problem of detailing and fabricating large-scale connections was overcome after detailed model and CAD studies—which helped in arriving at a visually interesting structure—had been carried out. The ExCeL project significantly enhances sustainable development in the region, increasing employment and contributing to urban regeneration.

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