Back to School with Curved Steel

The end of August and beginning of September is the time of year known as “back to school.” Whether it be that your young one has their first day in kindergarten, their first full day starting 1st grade, or they are starting their next phase in their education be it junior high, senior high, college or a trade school. For both the child and the parents this can be an exciting, and in many cases a challenging time.

For our family, this has been no different.  My daughter is starting her second year at South Dakota State University (SDSU), Brookings, SD. After the initial “move in,” I spent time exploring the campus. In doing so I noticed numerous examples of curved steel.  Be it in signage, bike racks, arch ways, entrance canopies, or structural elements. Employed as a Project Coordinator/Estimator by a bender/roller company, I have personally quoted and supplied numerous steel fabricators with curved steel to be used in schools and campus structures across the country.

While exploring the SDSU campus, it was no surprise to see numerous examples of curved steel.  The entrances to Frost Arena, home of the Jackrabbits, are marked by frames constructed of various size curved steel tubes.  The arch at the top of these frames appears to be a 10 x 4 tube, curved the easy way.

Signature Entrances at SDSU
Signature Entrances at SDSU

Another simple example is the 4 x 4 x ¼ square tube, curved to a 5 ft 4 11/16 in inside radius, which is the top arch for the Abdnor Archway at Erv Huether Field, the SDSU Jackrabbits’ baseball field.

The rotunda area of the SDSU Student Union most likely contains curved steel which would be used to support the precast concrete at the roof perimeter.  Not having seen the building while under construction, I could only guess that this framing may consist of beams or tubes rolled the easy way combined with plate or flat bar rolled the hard way, angles rolled leg in and maybe even channels rolled flanges in.

Curved Steel Sections Unexposed in Brookings, South Dakota
Curved Steel Sections Unexposed in Brookings, South Dakota

The last examples of curved steel utilized on the SDSU campus are the 16 x 4 x 3/8  tubes curved the hard way to a 109 ft 10 in inside radius, which are the main members of the entrance canopy to the SDSU Enrollment Services Center.

SDSU Enrollment Service Center
Tubes Bent the Hard Way for the SDSU Enrollment Service Center

Curved steel is utilized in construction in many ways. It may be simple or complex, exposed or as part of a support system no longer visible.  Curved steel is found in many schools and campuses across the country.  So, in the days ahead, when you are at or near a school, look around and see if you can find an example or two of curved steel.


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