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Modern Steel Construction / April 1997

R
ising boldly from the design’s energetic expression is
shores of Lake Erie—with readily apparent, with an unusual
part of the building actu- geometric configuration and por-
ally extending out above the tions of the building seemingly
water—the new Rock and Roll exploding outward from a central
Hall of Fame is a vital part of the tower core. Needless to say, the
new cultural and recreational complex geometry presented
area being developed along the numerous structural challenges.
Cleveland waterfront. In addition
The desire for a signature struc-
to the Hall of Fame, the 150,000-
ture resulted in a design that can
sq.-ft. project houses 50,000 sq. ft.
be divided into five distinct parts:
of exhibition space for rock and
a sloping glass tent; central tower;
roll memorabilia, a grand public
cantilever theater wing; circular
atrium, theater, radio broadcast-
exhibit wing; and underground
ing studio and other support facil-
exhibit areas.
ities.
The glass-enclosed public space
Even before its opening, the
of the tent provides a dramatic
building received national atten-
entrance to the Hall of Fame
tion for its unusual architecture
from the plaza. The sloped sur-
and exposed structural system, a
face of the tent literally leans
design which, in the words of
against the tower beyond, with
architect I.M. Pei, “echo(s) the
two vertical glass walls complet-
energy of rock and roll.” The

Modern Steel Construction / April 1997


in depth from close to zero at
their ends up to a maximum of
6.5’ at midspan. The bowstring
trusses are oriented perpendicular
to the sloped surface where they
can most efficiently resist wind
loads. The top chords form a pla-
nar surface, while the curve of
the bottom chords was chosen by
considering the deflected profile
under a uniform load of a mem-
brane having the shape of the
sloped surface. The shape of the
bowstring trusses produces an
inherently efficient design
because the greatest structural
depth is provided where the most
strength and stiffness are needed.

Judges
Comments
The complex geometry
and variety of the
architectural require-
ments provided the
engineers with a
unique opportunity to
ing the enclosure. Structural steel tion is in front of and 13.5’ above
show the versatility of
pipes and tubes provided the the smaller parallelogram-shaped
architecturally expressed support- portion. Together, the sloped sur- steel.
ing structure, while the sloped faces cover an area more than
surfaces are supported by an ele- 270’ wide. At the intersection of
Design of the tent structure was
gant system of gently tapering the two sloped surfaces, the tent
largely governed by wind deflec-
bowstring trusses. The interior of is supported by a sloping pipe
tions. To control deflections of the
the tent is filled with light: bal- truss spanning 200’ from one of
ridge truss in the most efficient
conies, stairs, bridges and escala- the four corners of the tower
manner, its connections to the
tors crisscross the space, bringing down to the plaza. The top chord
tower structure and to the plaza
color and animation to the public of this ridge truss is at the level of
were detailed to achieve continu-
spaces. the triangular section of the tent;
ity. This resulted in approximately
the bottom chord is at the level of
The sloped surface of the tent a fivefold reduction in deflections,
the parallelogram.
rises at a 45 degree angle to a and permitted the use of lighter
height of 135’ above the prome- The sloped glass surface is sup- steel sections that would be need-
nade level and is divided into two ported by a space frame grid of ed for the equivalent simply-sup-
parts. The larger, triangular por- 16 bowstring pipe trusses varying ported truss.

Modern Steel Construction / April 1997


The continuous connection at the
base of the truss is interesting in
that it provides moment continu-
ity between the steel and the con-
crete structures. Continuity is
provided by creating a couple
between the back leg (compres-
sion) and the leading edge (ten-
sion) of the truss. The compres-
sion force in the truss chord is
delivered to the reinforced con-
crete construction at the plaza
level through a steel casting rest-
ing on a 9”-diameter spherical
bearing. The tension force is
resisted by a 3.75”-diameter steel
bar anchored 16’ into the wall
below. These connection details
are both economical and effective
in providing a fixed-ended con-
nection between a steel truss and
reinforced concrete construction.
The tent structure also is unusual
in that structural steel tubes were
used for the mullions, rather than
more conventional aluminum
mullions. Tubes were used
because the structural demands
on the mullions are considerable:
the system was designed to span
across a triangular panel 38’ high
and 54’ wide for 100-year wind
loads. An added advantage of the
steel tubing is that it gives a
seamless architectural appearance
to the underside of the tent struc-
ture.
With the huge expanse of sloped
glazing rising from pedestrian
level, even small out-of-tolerances
would be clearly visible.
Consequently, unusually stringent
erection tolerances were speci-
fied. The curtain wall’s slope
complicated matters, however,
since the structure tends to
deflect out of position as the

Modern Steel Construction / April 1997


nearly planar surface.
As the weight of the mullions and
glass was added, the weight of the
ballast gradually and automatical-
ly shifted from the trusses to the
ground, without further deflec-
tion of the structure.
Another structural challenge was
the 162’-tall, six-story central
tower, which rises dramatically
from the waters of Lake Erie. In
addition to housing the HVAC
and other operational systems,
the steel-framed tower provides
ground exhibit space, a radio
broadcast studio and the muse-
um’s café on floors that extend
out from the tower proper into
the atrium. The actual Hall of
Fame is housed in a cubic room
near the top of the tower. From
the east side of the tower, the
175-seat theater wing cantilevers
80’ out over the water. The tower
is founded on steel piles that
extend 100’ below to a single
concrete pile cap.
To the west of the central tower, a
drum-shaped circular exhibit hall
weight of the curtain wall is grad- compensate for the full dead load. perches on top of a single 10’-
ually applied. The requirement The trusses were erected com- diameter concrete column rising
for strict tolerances led to an plete and then ballast was hung from the water. Access to the cir-
innovative system of cambering from predetermined locations on cular exhibit space is via bridges
and pre-deflecting the trusses the truss with the weight of the from the tower and tent. Like the
prior to installing the steel tube ballast equal to the weight of the tower, the circular exhibit wing is
mullions and glass. The idea was future mullions and glazing. The founded on steel piles; however,
to provide the curtain wall work- ballast was suspended slightly the single pile cap is hidden com-
ers with a sloped surface that was above the ground and the space pletely underwater.
essentially a true plane prior to between ground and ballast was
shimmed just enough to close the Much of the project’s engineering
the installation of the mullions
gap without transferring any of challenge emerged from dealing
and glass, and that would not
the ballast weight to the ground. with the buildings unusual
deflect form this position as the
With the total load on the trusses shapes, which often required spe-
weight of the curtain wall was
equal to the full dead load, the cial connections not often
gradually applied during installa-
cambered trusses deflected such encountered in more convention-
tion.
that the top chords formed a al steel projects. The circular
The bowstring trusses were fabri- exhibit wing is a prime example
cated with upward camber to

Modern Steel Construction / April 1997


of the difficult design require-
ments presented by this job. In
addition to having to support the
75’-diameter steel-framed exhibit
hall on top of a 10’-diameter con-
crete column is the problem of
the unbalanced loading on the
exhibit hall, which resulted in an
overturning moment at the top of
the column.
The solution was to wrap the con-
crete column with a 1 1/2”-thick
steel plate anchored into the con-
crete with Dywidag threadbars to
resist the overturning moment.
Steel plate girders are welded to
this ring and cantilever radially
outward from it. The remainder
of the steel framing is supported
by plate girders.
Another challenge was the design
of the cantilevered theater wing.
The wing cantilevers more than

Modern Steel Construction / April 1997


erect the tower with minimal
Project Team built-in side sway.
Structural Engineer: Leslie E. Robertson Associates, In the interests of structural effi-
New York City ciency, the engineers took full
Architect: Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners, New York City advantage of all available sources
Assoc. Arch: Robert P. Madison Intnl., Inc., Cleveland of stiffness. The significant stiff-
ness of the tent structure was
Contractor: Turner Construction Co., Cleveland, in assoc.
used to limit the side sway of the
Colejon Corp., Choice Construction Co., Inc., & Bradley
Construction Co., Inc. tower, and even the stiffness of
the circular exhibit hall, which is
connected by a bridge to the
80’ from a tower only 60’ in diaphragm had to be resolved in tower, was taken into account.
width. In addition, the wing is the same connection detail. Relying on other sources of stiff-
skewed in plan with respect to the ness to reduce construction-phase
At the second floor, there are deflections of the tower meant
tower and the top and bottom of
large architectural openings in specifying that steel erection and
the cantilever wing do not corre-
the floor where the compression concrete pours at the cantilever
spond to framed levels in the
load from the cantilever truss is wing be postponed until other
tower.
delivered. To work around these portions of the structure had been
The solution included the use of architectural constraints, a hori- completed. Additionally, the
full-depth cantilever trusses in zontal truss was built into the tower was horizontally cambered
the walls of the theater wing. floor framing to span past the to the west to reduce some of the
Partial support is provided at the openings. Similarly, numerous side sway effects.
south wall of the cantilever wing architectural openings through
by a story-high cross truss, which the south wall of the tower, in the The careful attention to detailing
spans between the northeast cor- area most critical to resisting the and coordination with the archi-
ner of the tower and a column in loads from the cantilever wing, tectural systems paid off: despite
the glass wall of the tent. meant that braced frames were the complexity of the project,
not acceptable in this area. To erection proceeded smoothly and
The tension and compression quickly and the building was
work around this, a substantial
components of the overturning completed on time and on bud-
moment frame system was pro-
moment are resisted by the get.
vided around the openings to
diaphragms of the sixth floor and
provide stiffness and strength
second floor, respectively. At the
requirements.
sixth floor, the concrete slab is
cast on a steel plate diaphragm. The cantilever wing was even
This diaphragm is used to distrib- more of a concern from a stiffness
ute the cantilever truss reactions point of view rather than
to braced frames located around strength. Even under dead load,
the perimeter of the tower since a the overturning moment from the
direct connection to the braced cantilever wing tends to induce
frames would have been difficult significant horizontal side sway in
on account of the skew between the tower structure. With strin-
the theater wing and the tower. In gent architectural tolerances for
addition, the substantial eccen- the construction of the tent’s
tricity between the location of the structural and glazing systems—
cantilever work point and the ele- which are supported directly by
vation of the sixth floor the tower—it was desirable to