New Building Material Every Architect Wants to Use

To create architectural designs, the choice of the material you use factors heavily into the building of a unique structure. That is why the use of architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) is stirring the imagination of architects.  
The use of this specialty metal dramatically increases the aesthetic appeal, not to mention the structural integrity of buildings. To create this impression, makers of AESS fabricate the metal, which allows them to produce a variety of shapes, curves, and tapered forms. Manufacturers complete the process by adding diverse colors and attractive finishes. 
Structural steel elements like AESS are designed to fit within a structural frame and support a building’s load. The American Institute of Steel  Construction (AISC) Code of Standard Practice sets the rules for the design and integrity of structures made of steel. 

Types of AESS Steel Members 

AESS steel components may include the following items: 

  • Anchor rods 
  • Beams 
  • Base plates 
  • Canopy frames 
  • Braces 
  • Connection materials 
  • Crane stops Girders 
  • Columns 
  • Posts 
  • Lintels 
  • Stud connectors 
  • Trusses 

AESS makers fabricate reused, galvanized, unfinished, or weathered steel items using the requirements set for AESS. Indeed, workers who manufacture, erect, or ship AESS parts handle them with extreme care. This avoids problems with unwanted surface marks or blemishes. 
Temporary bracing on fixtures is removed, and the backing or running tabs on some items. Welding quality is considered too. Treating the steel includes removing dirt, grease, and oil to ensure unpainted steel items look their best when finished. 

Classifications of AESS 

AESS is classified under five categories, as follows: 

  • AESS 1 - Basic Elements 
  • AESS 2 - Featured elements that are not in close view 
  • AESS 3 - Featured elements closely seen 
  • AESS 4 - Showcased elements 
  • AESS 5 - Customized elements 

Category AESS 1  

For AESS 1 components, characteristics include smooth ground edging, a continuous weld appearance, standard structural bolting, and the removal of weld splatters. 

Category AESS 2 

When AESS 2 items are used, they feature the essential characteristics of AESS 1 and smooth and uniform welds. Fabrication marks are not apparent. 

Category AESS 3 

Characteristics of AESS 3 items feature all the elements highlighted for AESS 1 and 2, as well as the removal of mill marks with plug and butt welds, ground smooth, and filled. The orientation of the HSS weld seam is adjusted for reduced visibility. 
“HSS” stands for hollow structural sections. These square and rectangular AESS parts are designed similarly to tubing and piping. Manufacturers design the sections by first using a flat plate of steel and gradually transforming it into rectangular or round pieces for welding. 
The cross-sectional abutting is surface aligned for AESS 3 members. Minimization of joint gap tolerances is yet another feature, along with the option of all-welded connections. 

Category AESS 4 

AESS 4 components feature all the characteristics showcased for AESS 4 parts, filed and sanded surfaces, hidden HSS weld seams, and contoured and blended welds.  

Customized AESS Members 

AESS 5 items, also called AESS C, can be designed using any of the above-mentioned characteristics per your exact specifications. 

Employing AESS Elements into an Architectural Design 

You can use different AESS levels for different viewing experiences. For instance, you can design structures, such as multilevel concourses, using different categories of AESS. 
If you’re an architect employing the use in multiple-use categories, you need to provide clear directions on where each AESS category is used. You’ll need to coordinate these notes with the structural engineer’s specs and drawings. 
Exposing structural steel will substantially increase a building’s worth. However, to ensure this type of result, you need to coordinate these details with the fabricators, contractors, detailers, and erectors.  
All the parties involved need to thoroughly scrutinize all the AESS categories to meet budget schedules and delivery requirements. 

Factors to Consider when Using AESS 

When you use architecturally exposed structural steel, you need to factor in the following: 

  • The level of visibility 
  • Distances for viewing 
  • The location 
  • Lighting arrangements 
  • Coatings 
  • Architectural style 
  • Adjacent parts and materials 

Indeed, AESS parts make designing and building a structure more inspiring and exciting. 
Therefore, your use of AESS items for buildings will be based on the construction solutions you’re seeking and envisioning. For example, you may be seeking a conceptual solution. In this case, you may want to determine the viability of a steel framing system for your construction project. 

Using AESS for A Conceptual Building Solution 

You’ll need to assess the project requirements to make the best use of AESS components. A conceptual solution for a building might include: 

  • Comparisons for the framing system based on economics, ease of construction, and project delivery time 
  • Evaluation of steel framing for lower floor-to-floor heights or vibrations 
  • Sizes of parts and quantities, based on prior framing studies 

Technical Specification and Solutions 

Naturally, technical specs and solutions will require in-depth assessments. This is vitally important for architectural success. Examples of solutions that you’ll need to assess include the following: 

  • Mill production and tolerances - requirements that include dimensional tolerances on the cross-section of specific shapes, quality requisites, and the type of mill conditioning allowed.  
  • Fabrication, including fabrication tolerances 
  • Ordering the steel 
  • Member designs 
  • Bolting 
  • Steel connections 
  • Welding 
  • Surface prep and painting/finishing 
  • Protection against fire 

Considerations for Welding 

Special considerations are made to MIG welding when AESS members are used. Therefore, the architectural designer or structural engineer must choose the proper weld type and profile. The correct filler and joint preparation process must also be used. 
While each step in the welding process is critical for success, it is more important to review the practice collectively. If deviations occur in one step, it can dramatically affect the outcome of the whole process. Therefore, all the requirements must be consistent and correctly performed. 

Make Your Designs Stand Out 

Your use of AESS members in architectural design and engineering projects will significantly enhance your reputation in the architectural field. That is because AESS places the focus on a building’s structural integrity. These steel structures stand out because fabricators can mold them into various shapes, curves, or forms and add attractive paints and coatings.  

A Safe and Aesthetic Architectural and Building Solution 

If you want a material that emphasizes structural strength and exterior beauty, you’ll find that the use of AESS will support all your requirements. 

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