Developing Eyes to See Rolled Steel Shapes

Many are the parents who proudly point out to their children objects that they made whether it’s a birthday cake, a garden, or a wooden chest.

The children of those who contribute to the build environment often hear stories about how a certain structure came to be–stories, for example, from the architect who designed a building, from the ironworker who welded its steel beams 1,000 ft above the ground, or from the salesperson who provided the insurance on the project.  Those of us who work with rolled steel shapes not only recognize our own parts in buildings but also the work of other Bender/Rollers:  we develop “eyes” to see the curved members.

For example, one of our estimators drove on the Ohio Turnpike from Chicago and stopped at the Wyandot Service Plaza, mile mark 76 east of Toledo.  The structure has curved steel roof members that he bid on and was awarded the contract to roll.  He pointed his work out to his children and took pictures to bring back to our associates on the shop floor.

Toll Way rest center
Rolled Steel Shapes “Shape” this Toll Way Rest Center

Many of us have travelled through numerous airports where curved steel was evident as architectually exposed structural steel (AESS).  Prominent among them is the JFK American Airlines terminal in New York City, the San Jose Airport in California, the Jacksonville Florida Airport, and the Fresno/Yosemite Airport.  The trend toward AESS curved steel in airports was probably set by Chicago’s United Airlines Terminal in Chicago designed by Helmut Jahn.

curved steel members at Chicago United Airlines terminal
Curved Steel Members at Chicago’s United Airlines Terminal

Sports stadiums and arenas are also structures that commonly incorporate rolled steel members.  Examples include the Sprint Arena in Kansas City, MO, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix Stadium with Curved Roof Trusses

Those of us who contribute to the build environment should feel a justified pride when we are improving the lives of others with superior design and construction.  And we should point out our successes to our children (and grandchildren) for them to emulate.


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