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Innovative Mixed Use Project Showcases New Structural Steel Technology



Atlanta Innovation


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The Atlanta area has long been the site of innovations – In 1884, an Atlanta inventor developed the formula for Coca Cola, a drink that would become so popular that, today, 7000 bottles are consumed per second. In 1980, Atlantan Ted Turner introduced the concept of 24-hour cable news coverage. CNN now ranks as America’s #1 cable news network. So it’s not surprising that suburban Atlanta is the location of the first project to use a breakthrough structural steel concept.

The Artisan, a 230,000 square foot, 105 unit mixed use condominium/retail project in Decatur, Georgia was constructed using innovative U-shaped Versa:T™ beams from DIVERSAKORE, LLC which provide exceptional strength while saving both time and money.

The lighter weight beams also provided cost savings on materials since they did not require foundations to be as large.



Rethinking a Project


The Artisan was originally designed as a Post Tensioned Flat Slab project, according to Jim Hall a partner in Dixie Erectors, the steel erector that worked on the building. About one month later, he heard from one of his customers about DIVERSAKORE’s new product, and, after investigating it, was able to reprice his company’s work and won the job. Hall found the VERSA:T:™ system to be fast and efficient. “The profile of the beams means you can have low floor to floor heights and still run duct work and electric in the space above the ceiling. The low floor heights work particularly well for this sort of multi-story residential building where the architectural aesthetics need to fit well with the environment.” He added, “With concrete structures everything has to be done on site. With the DIVERSAKORE system, fabrication can be done off site and shipped in to arrive when you need it. That allowed us to work more efficiently.”

 

The Gellerstedt Group developed the Artisan project. According to their representative, they selected the DIVERSAKORE product as a value engineering item that offered the advantage of columns narrow enough to be placed inside the walls, presenting greater design flexibility. The lighter weight beams also provided cost savings on materials since they did not require foundations to be as large.

 

Greg Miller, AIA, a principal in the architectural firm of Cooper Carry was Chief Architect on the project. He appreciated the ability to conceal the columns. “The system needs a very small structural column so the building columns could be easily incorporated into the residential unit design”, Miller said. He added that the system offered the advantages of both steel-framed and concrete-framed buildings. “The columns are small and would compare to a steel framed building.  The floors are stiff (no bounce) and would compare to a concrete framed building. Both attributes are very positive.” Miller feels the VERSA:T ™ system would be an economical choice for “regular, simple building profiles” and has already recommended it on other projects. “While we had to revise many of the skin and roof details because the building was originally designed to be cast in place concrete frame, we were able to achieve a very stiff structural frame with very small columns.”



A New Approach to Structural Engineering


VERSA:T ™ beams are the creation of Housh Rahimzadeh, P.E. A Georgia Tech graduate, internationally known structural engineer since 1964, and senior member of the firm of John Portman & Associates, Housh had worked extensively with all types of building framing systems. He realized that structural steel and precast or cast in place concrete systems had not kept up with the technological changes of past decades. To provide cost savings and builder flexibility, Housh set out to discover a better way -- a quest that led to the development of the unique, patented Versa:T: ™ framing system and to the establishment of DIVERSAKORE, LLC.® Because of their U-shape and internal studs, use of the VERSA:T ™ beams creates a composite design – a fusion of concrete and steel that meets the standards of both the AISC and the ACI. By rethinking traditional post tension beam design and leveraging composite beam design principles, the Versa:T: ™ beam maximizes the allowable use of concrete compression and steel tension design capacities producing an exceptionally strong composite beam with a span of 60 feet or more between vertical supports. This translates to a number of benefits to the design and construction team: the performance of cast in place at 2/3 the weight; the ease and speed of structural steel systems; and the quality control attributes of precast.



Rigorous Pre-Market Testing


For help with the business model, Housh turned to his son Marc Rahimzadeh, another Georgia Tech graduate who held an executive position at an Atlanta company. After spending his nights and weekends studying the construction industry and how his father’s invention could drive positive change, Marc took a chance and joined DIVERSAKORE as CEO in February of 2005. His business acumen convinced him that the new framing system could have a dramatic impact on the work of architects, designers, builders, and building owners. But both Marc and Housh knew that scrupulous testing by an independent organization would be required.

 

The VERSA:T:™ products were submitted for testing at Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The testing protocol was led by Stan Lindsey, a world-renowned Structural Engineer whose works include the Theme structure for the 1982 World’s Fair and the Aquatic venue for the 1996 Olympics. A past Chairman of the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Specifications Committee, Lindsey is a respected authority on structural requirements. “The beams met or exceeded AISC standards for load, stress, and deflection,” Lindsey commented. “The testing capacity matched exactly to the theoretical capacity that my analysis had predicted”, he added. “It verified that the product has a lot of potential.”

At the time of the construction of the Artisan project, DIVERSAKORE’s products had not yet received their UL certification, necessitating fireproofing spray for this project. However, the VERSA:T: beam now carries a 2 hour UL® fire assembly rating (ANSI/UL263), eliminating the need for fireproofing spray when it is used with 8” or thicker hollowcore planks and a 1 3/8” or thicker concrete topping slab.



Framing System Versatility


VERSA:T: ™ beams are effective components of several different types of framing systems, including Steel, Cast in Place, Hybrid, Precast, and Metal Deck. Marc Rahimzadeh, DIVERSAKORE CEO, comments: “DIVERSAKORE’s expertise spans a broad variety of building types and component materials. We are committed to recommending just the right framing system for each project.”

 

When used in a Composite Metal Deck system, the beams reduce material costs, increase floor space due to smaller column size, reduce floor to floor heights by 6” or more, and reduce structural depth yielding cost savings.

 

When used in a Hollowcore Slab system, the composite columns eliminate the need for fireproofing and increase usable floor space. The hollow steel tubes and VERSA:T: ™ beams act as permanent forms; the physical features of the beams minimize deflection and create easy, economical connections; and the reinforced concrete design enables simple and cost effective moment connections.

Members of the Artisan construction team agree that DIVERSAKORE’s new structural steel technology represents – in the words of Jim Hall “a very viable solution for the construction market” – one which they are likely to recommend for upcoming projects.

Marc Rahimzadeh sums it up: “VERSA:T: beams offer unparalleled advantages to steel industry professionals because it allows them to compete for projects they might otherwise have missed. As a component of DIVERSAKORE’s framing systems, they maximize the speed and ease of structural steel systems and offer the performance of cast in place systems at 2/3 the weight. Trades have accelerated access to perform their work because they don’t have to wait until several higher floors are completed to begin. Parts can be fabricated off-site to enable “just in time” assembly, enabling construction professionals to compete more aggressively on jobs and achieve higher profit margins.”