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US steel erectors contribute to community revitalisation projects

Award-winning projects include sports arena, performance centres, and a museum.

Seven steel erection companies have been named as recipients in the annual Project of the Year awards by the Steel Erectors Association of America (SEAA). One winner was selected in each of four categories based on the dollar amount of the erection contract. In addition, three companies received honourable mentions. Categories are Class I up to $500,000; Class II $500,000 to $1 million; Class III $1-2.5 million; and Class IV over $2.5 million.

Three of the projects were part of broader redevelopment plans in the local communities where they were built, and five of them house centres for cultural expression—including performing arts, sports, and a museum.

Chosen by an independent panel of judges, the companies received notice of their awards in April 2021 for projects that were topped out in either 2019 or 2020.

“Erectors often work in close collaboration with other teams and trades, and sometimes the customer. Challenges frequently deal with logistics, crane selection and rigging methods, and execution of complicated connection plans,” said Alan Sears, SEAA Awards Committee Chairman. “We congratulate these companies for excellent delivery of these unique structural steel construction projects.”

2021 Project of the Year Winners

Hodges Erectors Inc., for Turnberry Ocean Club condo entrance, Sunny Isles, Florida.

(Class I for erection contracts up to $500,000)

This oceanfront condominium tower was built to provide a luxury lifestyle for residents, which starts with a grand entrance composed of a free spanning structure. The frame of plate girder and tube steel spans 150 feet from the building façade to a water fall feature. Because the curved beams are under compression at both ends, the structure was able to be erected without intermediate support columns. One of the main challenges was the number of mobilisations required due to sequencing. Hodges Erectors used a tower crane for unloading and erection for about half of the project, but had to bring in a 450-ton mobile crane, properly shored, to set up on a parking garage to complete the job.

FM Steel LLC, for Talking Stick Resort arena renovations, Phoenix, Arizona.

(Class II for $500,000 to $1 million)

This job is part of the $230 million Project 201 PHX Reimagined redevelopment to convert a small, dated arena into a new venue for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury basketball teams. “The 125 tons of steel that we stuffed in between the existing roof structure was designed to hold new visuals for fans,” said Michael Mulsow. This steel structure will hold a new a centre-hung scoreboard that is six times larger than the previous videoboard, and two new LED ribbon boards. This project required multiple mobilisations in order to work around home games. In addition, limited headroom for the crane, meant that some steel was transferred in mid-air from the crane using bull rigging techniques.

United Steel Inc., for Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater, Bridgeport, Conn.

(Class III for $1 million to $2.5 million)

Conversion of a dilapidated ballpark into an amphitheater is part of a larger economic redevelopment plan for the south side of Bridgeport. The joint venture between the City of Bridgeport and Harbour Yard Amphitheater in association with Live Nation Entertainment will house concerts, graduations, community events and festivals. The hallmark of the building is a 125 ft high tensile roof and unique 107 ft high pavilion entrance, which is complemented by a 25 ft oculus. This one-of-a-kind structure required extensive planning and coordination utilising three cranes working in unison on a tight site to install a 135 ft. diameter trussed ring that supports a 60,000 lb. cable-supported centre mast and several cable-supported “flying masts.”

Deem Structural Service for Buddy Holly Hall performing arts centre, Lubbock, Texas

(Class IV for over $2.5 million)

Part of downtown Lubbock’s revitalisation efforts, a 220,000 square foot performing arts cent honours the area’s musical heritage of the 1950s. The first-class music venue features a 13-ton stair, shaped like a funnel cloud to remember the tragic tornado of 1970, and a guitar wall consisting of more than 9,000 pieces of cast aluminium guitar picks depicting Buddy Holly. Complicated sequencing, limited site space, monitoring major truss deflections, and bracing were among the challenges of the job. In addition, connection design was delegated to the steel team. Adding to the complexity of the job was a project-within-a-project—the erection of the funnel cloud shaped stair, comprised of double-axis HSS tubing, supported only by cantilevered steel at each floor level.

Three companies received honourable mention.

High Plains Steel Services LLC, for Hunters Overlook Bridge, Windsor, Colo. (Class I)

A 168 ft clear span bridge over a private reservoir for a private residence was purchased from a bridge supplier, but the construction method proposed by the supplier was drastically over budget. High Plains Steel was brought into the project when the customer realised the initial plan was not feasible. High Plains Steel worked with the customer’s crane supplier to devise an alternative construction method that saved tens of thousands in costs.

CAS Steel Erectors Inc., for International African American Museum, Charleston, S.C. (Class III)

South Carolina presents unique construction challenges in that it is a multi-hazard zone subject to hurricanes, earthquakes, and flooding. A 41,760 square ft elevated structure, which will house a new museum, required numerous moment and seismic welds and use of an unprecedented zero tolerance brick relief system. The complex project was further complicated by an aggressive schedule amid COVID-19, requiring additional health and safety protocols. CAS Steel Erectors built a temporary canopy with cantilevered beams and scaffolding to temporarily shore the cantilevered beams at elevation until moment welds were completed. In all, hundreds of inches of field welding was required for connections, which included 220 standard moment connections and 110 rigid frame moment welds.

Cooper Steel for Belmont University Performing Arts Centre, Nashville, Tenn. (Class IV)

A multi-purpose theatre, designed to house two event spaces, features a dome ceiling and arch entryways. Cooper Steel served as the fabricator and managed the erection on the project, which was performed by fellow SEAA member Sentry Steel Service. In all, 14 trusses were erected. They weighed up to 21.5 tons and measured 91 ft. With minimal lay-down area available, the trusses were erected directly off the trailer and delivery times had to be carefully coordinated. To speed up the process, Cooper Steel pre-fabricated large pieces of steel off site. In addition, the dome—consisting of 400 individual pieces with an accuracy tolerance of ½ in.—required specific angles, sizing, and erection sequences.

About Steel Erectors Association of America

Founded in 1972, SEAA is the only national trade association representing the interests of steel erectors, fabricators, contractors, and related service providers. The association promotes safety, education and training programs for steel erector trades, including its Ironworker Craft Training curriculum. The association works in partnership with other steel construction, design, and steel product organisations to protect the interests of those who construct steel structures. Learn more at


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