Native American Imprint

by Dominic M. Cullen, Struct. Engr.; Severud Assoc. Consulting Engineers, P.C., New York, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 9, Pg. 56-61

Document Type: Feature article


Following a design phase of more than four years, construction has finally begun on the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, which will occupy one of the last undeveloped sites on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. The museum, scheduled to open by 2004, will be located next to the popular National Air and Space Museum with a direct view of the U.S. Capitol. The entire building may be said to resemble a series of weather-worn limestone cliffs. The structure is supported by friction-resistant, epoxy-coated steel driven piles. The complex geometry of the perimeter walls requires that most of the perimeter columns offset one another at each floor, necessitating cantilevers and transfer girders. Additionally each spandrel beam is curved in plan. Where architectural requirements limited the depth of transfer beams, full-height wall beams tie the floors together. A series of complex cantilevered stairways linking the floors encircle the space beneath the central dome. Most of the floor area reflects a beam-and-slab frame or flat-slab design. The museum is a reinforced-concret structure with the exception of two prominent features: the dome and a dramatic east roof cantilever system, which are of steel frame construction.

Subject Headings: Steel structures | Public buildings | Floors | Structure reinforcement | Steel piles | Steel frames | Steel construction

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