Wilmington, N.C. — For the second time this year, Andrew Consulting Engineers has been honored for its structural engineering work on the Wilson Center, a 1,500-seat performance hall at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, N.C. At its state conference in November, the Structural Engineers Association of North Carolina presented Neal Andrew, president of Andrew Consulting Engineers, with the 2016 Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering for Best Project, New Construction, $10 million – $50 million.
In June, Andrew was presented with the 2016 Outstanding Technical Achievement Award from the Professional Engineers of North Carolina for his work on the same project. Andrew Consulting Engineers worked on the Wilson Center from 2010 to its completion in late 2015.
“The Wilson Center is a once-in-a-generation project for the Cape Fear area and we are very honored to have been involved,” said Andrew. “As a performance venue, the Center had very stringent acoustical criteria and it had to accommodate very heavy loads consistent with theater, concert and stage performances. On the outside, the building looks state-of-the-art, but the inner details are the secret of its innovation.”
The Wilson Center at CFCC features 45,000 square feet of classroom and rehearsal space and 115,000 square feet of performance hall and pre-function lobby space. The 1,500+ seat performance theater is the largest in the area and is designed to accommodate Broadway touring productions, concerts, symphonic performances, recitals and symposiums. The performance hall offers professional-quality lighting systems, rigging, acoustics and orchestra equipment, and boast two tiers of balconies and two levels of opera boxes for a variety of seating options. The building also houses a 108-person capacity studio/black box theater and an outdoor conservatory for performances with a 600-person capacity.
“Because of its unique design, the Wilson Center is a live example for the public of the very important role that structural engineering plays in architecture,” said Andrew. “The uniqueness of the curtain wall, the cantilevered balconies and the structural concrete roof are all educational opportunities for CFCC students and local engineers and architects.”
According to Andrew, the Wilson Center stands out in two ways from a structural engineering perspective. First, the amount of structural steel framing needed to support the building is remarkable (2,800 tons). Secondly, there were a variety of once-in-a-career structural engineering details utilized in a single project. The Center is comprised of three separate structures tied together using structural expansion joints that are also acoustically isolated to prevent any transmission of sound and vibration to the performance hall. Other details include the building’s 90-foot height, proscenium arch beams that span 60 feet over the stage; custom structural steel roof trusses that span 100 feet over the performance hall; 14 steel catwalks suspended from the long span roof framing at multiple levels and a 54-foot glass curtain wall in the lobby.
The Structural Engineers Association of North Carolina (SEA of NC) was established in 2009 and is dedicated to improving the practice, educational standards and pubic understanding of structural engineering. 2016 is the first year that SEA of NC has presented awards and the Wilson Center award was one of six presented.