Steel continues to provide engineers and architects with the capacity to deliver flexible, creative, economic and technically inspiring buildings. The American Institute of Steel Construction has now recognised 12 of the country’s best.

Emphasis has been placed on imaginative solutions to the project’s program requirements: applications of innovative design approaches in areas such as connections, gravity systems, lateral load resisting systems, fire protection and blast; the aesthetic and visual impact of the project, the innovative use of architecturally exposed structural steel, technical or architectural advances in the use of the steel, and the use of innovative design and construction methods.

In terms of sheer scale, One World Trade Center in New York, is pretty unbeatable – it utilises 40,800 metric tons of structural steel – but its excellence in engineering is equally impressive.

Engineers WSP Cantor Seinuk designed a hybrid structural steel moment frame and high strength concrete core system to optimise structural efficiency, aided by the aerodynamic tapering of the tower as it rises. The frame creates substantial rigidity and redundancy for the overall structure while allowing column-free interior spans for maximum flexibility.

Newport Beach Civic Center and Park

Newport Beach Civic Center and Park, Newport Beach, California.

The geometrical shape of the tower also reduces exposure to the high wind loads often experienced in New York, as well as the amount of structural steel needed, and, thus, the demand on the lateral system of the tower.

Every major aspect of the US Army Corps of Engineers Federal Centre South Building in Seattle is designed in direct response to creating a high performance building that establishes a new workplace standard, with paramount importance also placed upon anti-terrorism protection.

The design team, including ZGF Architects and structural engineers KPFF Consulting Engineers, has created a perimeter diagrid design which integrates sloped columns and spandrel grinders into a single structural system. This provides lateral resistance and a redundant support system for the floor framing.

It also functions as a progressive collapse system for the structure, meaning the building will remain standing should the column elements become compromised. Steel also features in the cladding with a stainless steel shingle complementing the nearby historic 1930s Albert Kahn-designed building.

Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Philadelphia

Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Philadelphia

The facility is supported by 205 18-inch-diameter piles, driven at least 150 feet into the glacial soils. This strong foundation system is designed to support building loads and withstand the effects of earthquakes and soil liquification. Pipes have been installed in 135 of the piles that route back to the central mechanical system, and these enable the project to be one of the first in the region to combine geothermal heating and cooling with structural piles.

Elsewhere, steel has helped deliver both architectural ambitions and building flexibility at the new Newport Beach Civic Centre in California.

The iconic steel and glass structure reflects a sense of movement through the repeated use of curved structural members, which create a sense of rhythm and scale. The building is punctuated by natural forms reminiscent of the centre’s environment. The design of the steel frame structures by engineers Arup meets the project constraints and minimises steel usage, resulting in a lateral bracing system displayed for the building’s occupants.The crowning glory of sprawling building is the wavelike roof.

Freedom Tower at sunset

Freedom Tower

At the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Philadelphia, engineers Severud Associates have used steel to help the architects Weiss/Manfredi make a real statement. A steel shear wall structure supports a magnificent glass cantilever that is visible from both the interior and exterior.

The new 78,000 square foot facility features state-of-the-art lab spaces and features vibrant, central spaces including the public Galleria. This space is wrapped in a metal paneled facade with a bent ripple that reflects and refracts the surrounding buildings and activity of the city.

“The 2014 IDEAS2 winners demonstrate that innovation and creativity can be found on building projects of every size and description. Steel continues to provide excellent solutions for the entire design and construction team, from architects, engineers and developers to general contractors, fabricators and erectors,” said Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of the American Institute of Steel Construction.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center, New York.

The full list is as follows:

Projects Less Than $US15 million;

National Award: San Diego Main Public Library Dome, San Diego

Merit Award: Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center, Battle Creek. Mich.

Merit Award: United Therapeutics Pedestrian Connector, Silver Spring, Md.

Projects $US15 Million to $US75 million;

National Award: US Army Corps of Engineers Federal Center South Building 1202, Seattle

Merit Award: Onondaga Community College, Ferrante Hall Academic II Addition, Syracuse, NY.

Projects Greater than $US75 Million;

National Award: Newport Beach Civic Center and Park, Newport Beach, Calif.

Merit Award: Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Philadelphia

Merit Award: Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, Salt Lake City

Merit Award: US Courthouse, San Diego, San Diego

Presidential Award of Excellence in Engineering;

One World Trade Center, New York.