Piscataway, N.J. — The new Rutgers University School of Business building in Piscataway, N.J., was recognized by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) with a 2016 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. “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.”

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 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 5th floor slab was poured.

The floating L-shaped feature connects the two sections of the building at the 5th 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.

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,” Mr. Smilow points out. “Rutgers Business School students and professors will be inspired by this incredible building for many years to come.”

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff projects, or those by affiliate Halvorson and Partners, a WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Company, have won IDEAS2 Awards for the past four years and received the Presidential Award of Excellence in 2014 and 2013. Past winners include: Hilton Columbus Downtown High Street Bridge, Columbus, Ohio (2015); One World Trade Center (2014); and Chelsea Piers Connecticut (2013).