The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) recognized the new Rutgers University School of Business building in Piscataway, N.J., for excellence in building design with a 2016 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS2) award. The IDEAS2 Award program highlights innovative design in engineering and architecture with structural steel. The Rutgers building was a national award winner in the $15 million to $75 million category. Structural engineering for the project was performed by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, which also did the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design. The project architect was Enrique Norton.

“We are extremely proud to receive an IDEAS2 Award from AISC for the fourth year in a row,” said Jeffrey Smilow, national director of building structures at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff projects, or those by affiliate Halvorson and Partners, a WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Company, have won IDEAS2 Awards for the last four years and received the Presidential Award of Excellence in 2014 and 2013.

“The project presented considerable structural challenges, requiring innovative solutions to enable the building to achieve both the owner’s and the architect’s design vision,” Smilow said.

The 150,000-square-foot Rutgers Business School is the gateway to Rutgers University’s Livingston Campus in Piscataway. The L-shaped form of the building appears to float 60 feet above Rockefeller Road. Most of the campus traffic passes under and through the building. The building design keeps within the goals of the master plan: Create a high-density academic development complete with urban facilities, shared amenities, and a walkable campus.

The Business School, like every new construction at Rutgers University, is LEED Silver equivalent. The building is powered by solar panels located above the adjacent parking lot. The cooling and heating needs are augmented by neighboring geothermal borefields built below the quad. All stormwater is managed through bioswales and retention ponds onsite. The atrium provides high levels of day-lighting into the building and the mechanical system is optimized for lower energy use. Low VOC materials and specialized carpet tiles enhance the air quality as well.

The architect conceived the building as three bands — classrooms, offices, and public spaces – with the bands connected vertically with an atrium and horizontally with varied sized communal spaces, ranging from personal nooks, to collaboration zones, to collective spaces.

Structurally, the building includes twelve, 65-foot-long, 36-inch-diameter round sloping columns that support the “floating” L-shaped building form above. These columns are exterior, exposed, and painted with intumescent paint. In order to achieve the strength necessary for these sloping columns, the columns were filled with self-consolidating concrete after the steel was erected but before the fifth floor slab was poured.

The floating L-shaped feature connects the two sections of the building at the fifth floor and includes a 92-foot, column-free span. To achieve this, 60-inch-deep built-up plate girders were utilized. These 92-foot-long girders are supported by the 65-foot-long sloping columns at one end and “regular” building columns at the other.

In order to ensure there would not be a vibration issue with the floating L-shaped portion of the building, the design team created a finite element model to study human-induced vibrations for this area. The team at WSP Structures performed a time history analysis following AISC Design Guide 11 recommendations. Based on the analysis, it was determined that the human-induced vibrations would be considerably less than the acceptable vibration levels defined by the ISO chart in chapter 2 of Design Guide 11.

Thomas Murray, author of AISC Design Guide 11, visited the site before the building fit-out and façade erection to study the vibrations on the floating L-shape. With an accelerometer attached to the floor, a volunteer walked the floor at different frequencies with a metronome in hand. Based on the data collected, the floor performed exactly as predicted by the time history analysis.

Steel members also created other architectural features within the building. Exposed bracing inside the building became an architectural feature. Making sure that the lateral forces induced from wind and seismic events could get to the lateral bracing systems turned out to be a challenge as well. Because of the open nature of the building, numerous openings in the floor diaphragms were required. The numerous openings and the L-shaped section connecting the two parts of the building required the design team to carefully follow the load paths of the wind and seismic induced loads into the bracing systems.

“In the end, the structural design team assisted world renowned architect, Enrique Norton, to achieve his vision,” Smilow said. “Rutgers Business School students and professors will be inspired by this incredible building for many years to come.”

Information provided by the WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff ( and the American Institute of Steel Construction ( All 10 winners of AISCs 2016 IDEAS2 Awards will be featured in the September issue of Civil + Structural Engineer.