Structural engineering firm Halvorson and Partners joined architect Foster + Partners in celebrating the recent groundbreaking of the United Arab Emirates Pavilion for the Shanghai Exposition in 2010. The sand dune-inspired form, structured as a bolted steel diagrid, will be among the few national world-expo buildings to be disassembled and reassembled in its home country after exhibition.

To provide column-free space under each of the dunes, Halvorson and Partners worked closely with Foster + Partners through a series of form-finding exercises, optimizing the profile of each dune to behave as an efficient shell form. These forms were then structured with an efficient steel diagrid.

"HP has developed in-house form-finding routines to efficiently analyze and communicate how the underlying form can be optimally shaped and utilized," said principal Robert A. Halvorson. "With minimal changes in the shell profiles and curvature, we were able to significantly reduce deflections of the pavilion, from eight inches to 0.8 inches."

To communicate this complex, organic form, Halvorson and Partners and the design team utilized various state-of-the-art software systems in tandem, including Rhino, Microstation and Strand with interoperability and collaboration as a key focus.

After the Shanghai Exposition, the UAE Pavilion will be reassembled on Saadiyat Island, the $100 billion cultural center now under development in Abu Dhabi.

Halvorson and Partners offers comprehensive structural engineering services on a wide range of projects to public and private clients worldwide. Committed to excellence through close collaboration with clients and colleagues the company offers expertise in the design of structures that require a unique vision. Located in downtown Chicago, with branch offices in Atlanta and Abu Dhabi, Halvorson and Partners has completed a number of significant building designs.

For additional information visit Halvorson and Partners at

The two renderings courtesy of Foster + Partners, and the structural model courtesy of Halvorson and Partners.