The Smithsonian Institution Building (SIB), also known as “The Castle”, is the original home of the Smithsonian and the Institution’s signature building, located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The building designed by James Renwick Jr., originally opened in 1855, and has subsequently seen many modifications, reconstructions, and repairs over the years. Many of the recent repairs have been in response to the Mineral Earthquake in 2011, the epicenter of which was located approximately 90 miles from DC. During the earthquake, the unreinforced masonry of the Castle suffered damage including the collapse of chimneys, displacement of finials, and cracking in the towers. The Castle is now undergoing its first significant renovation and restoration in over 50 years with the Revitalize Historic Core project. Given the high cultural significance of the building as an artifact itself of the Smithsonian and the extent of damage incurred in the 2011 earthquake, the building will be structural retrofit for upgraded seismic design using base isolation. The isolators will decouple the building from the movement of the earth under a seismic event, and significantly reduce the movements and accelerations of the building and towers relative to a fixed base building.
The Smithsonian has elected for this enhanced seismic design approach to protect the Castle not just for an ordinary building’s service life, but in perpetuity against a seismic event of a nearly 2500-year return period.
Base Isolation has been used on a number of west coast historic and landmark buildings in the United States, but the Castle will be a landmark example of a seismic retrofit using base isolation on the east coast. Though DC is a traditionally low seismic zone, the geometry of the Castle, with slender projecting towers and chimneys built of unreinforced masonry, make this building particularly sensitive to amplified accelerations from ground movements. Prior design studies for the project investigated using traditional retrofit measures, such as concrete shear walls or steel brace frames installed inboard of the existing masonry walls. These options were both more destructive to historic fabric, especially at the towers, and could not achieve the same enhanced seismic performance feasible with base isolation. By incorporating the technology of base isolation, and by using modern nonlinear dynamic analysis procedures for nuanced evaluation, the building can be seismically retrofit to meet the Smithsonian’s intended enhanced performance objectives in a way that allows for a more sensitive approach to historic preservation.
The Castle is a designated National Historic Landmark. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the National Mall Historic District.
WHEN: Tuesday, February 20, 2024, 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM WHERE: Hilton Arlington, 950 N Stafford St, Arington, VA 22203 (Directions) COST: $45 (Early Registration by 1/12). $55 (Walk-In/Late Registration after 1/12). $15 Life Members (over 65+). $10 Students. Attendees received (1.0) Professional Development Hour (PDH).
About The Speaker
Christopher Ruiz, Principal, TYLin/Silman Structural Solutions
Chris Ruiz joined Silman in 2010 as a structural project engineer and was promoted to Principal in 2023 and oversees the Building Sector office for Silman Structural Solutions. As the Mid-Atlantic Buildings Sector Manager and Area Manager TYLin, Chris oversees and growth in the region and assists in growth in the Southeast. He has over 16 years of experience in the industry and covers a wide range of project types, including educational, institutional, cultural, residential, commercial, mixed-use, and parking structures. He has experience with a variety of building materials including reinforced and post-tensioned concrete, steel, wood, and masonry. Chris enjoys the collaborative process of design and working to develop balanced solutions that supports that architectural vision. Born and raised in South Florida, Chris received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Florida, Go Gators! He enjoys playing piano and spending time with his two kids. He especially enjoys weekends at the Smithsonian Museums where the kids explore walking around with their sketch books taking inspiration from what they see.
The design of composite beams for floor framing systems is one of the most common systems in the structural steel industry. This presentation will review some of the minimum requirements for composite beam design, including a discussion on what “percent composite” means and the AISC Specification language that discusses this aspect.
Meeting Format: Hybrid (In-person & Virtual) Location: SK&A DC Office, 1155 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036 Time: Thursday, February 22nd at 12:00-1:00 PM Virtual Link: The meeting link will be sent out following registration to all virtual attendees Cost of Attendance: Virtual ($5), Life Member ($10), Member In-Person ($20), Non-Member In-Person ($25)
Attendees will receive (1.0) Professional Development Hour (PDH).
About the Speaker
Susan B. Burmeister, P.E. S2B Structural Consultants, PLLC
Susan Burmeister began her career in Atlanta, GA before coming to the Metropolitan Washington DC area in 2004. She graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. She has extensive experience with concrete and steel structural design and began contributing to AISC Task Committee 5, Composite Design almost 20 years ago. She co-authored the recent AISC Design Guide 36 on Camber, and she has given presentations on composite design at several NASCC Conferences as well as AISC Night School and SEI University.
Whew. I know it’s only February, but it’s been a long year! Do you feel that way sometimes? Or does everything always go as planned? I am sure, more likely than most, it’s the former as opposed to the latter. And you know what? That’s ok.
This sporadic feeling of being overwhelmed makes me think back to a busy time when, seemingly out of the blue, one of my mentors asked me, “Do you know how to eat an elephant?" Seeing how puzzled I was, he quickly responded, “One bite at a time.” And that is what we do as engineers. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, we take small chunks out of the seemingly enormous tasks set out in front of us, until we have fully and completely tackled them and built something with purpose and value.
That is what we plan to do this year with your section, too. We’ve received your input and will be slowly implementing lasting changes in regard to how your section runs. It won’t happen instantaneously, but we will continue to work on these tasks, with your help, until we’ve tackled this elephant together. Next month I will clue you into some of the changes you are going to help us implement.
So, my last little quip… Remember to take it easy on yourself. You are doing a lot. People see the effort you are putting forth. Trust that you will make it to the finish line - even if it doesn’t occur as originally planned. It is easy to get overwhelmed if you forget that. We, your section friends, know you can do it and we are here to help.
On Sunday, December 10, 2023, members of ASCE’s National Capital Section‘s Historic and Heritage Committee, braved the much needed rain to visit three important civil engineering structures to national capital region and the nation. These 19th century marvels included the Bollman Truss Bridge, Savage Mill and the Thomas Viaduct. Tours were spearheaded and led by Bernie Dennis. Bernie provided extensive background to the attendees, including articles of research from ASCE-NCS newsletters from March and May 2011 highlighting the Bollman Truss and Thomas Viaduct, respectively. Furthermore, he provided an excellent summary of the landmark nomination process and the role of the committee and its members in recognizing these two sites as National Historic Engineering Landmark (NHCEL).
The Bollman Truss Bridge in Savage, Maryland is a paramount edifice to the civil engineering profession. Designed by self-taught engineer, Wendel Bollman, of Baltimore, built the first iron truss bridge and obtained a patent for his unique design in 1852. His design integrated an array of tension bars spanning from end posts to independently support each floor beam, improve capacity for transient moving loads and additional redundancy. Additionally, the design selected different metals for differing applied forces, such as cast iron for compression members and wrought iron for tension members. Furthermore, his design used replaceable parts and bolted connections to permit future maintenance and repair efforts. The current bridge was constructed for the B&O railroad in 1869 and relocated to its present location in 1888 to serve the textile industry at Savage Mill. It is the last remaining Bollman Truss Bridge and as a result of its significant was designated in 1966 as the first NHCEL.
Recognizing a need for a dry warm place, the group then toured the nearby Savage Mill, a historic textile mill complex listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and the site of the Savage Mill Historic District. The mill buildings served as a cotton and duck canvass manufacturer from the early 19th century through World War II. Major building campaigns range from 1822 to 1916. Its primary load-carrying elements include of unreinforced, load-bearing, stone and brick masonry shear walls which support multiple wood-framed floors and trusses roof systems. With the preservation efforts and sensitive design of its new life as a shopping center, it is easy for visitors to see its contribution to the region through its roof monitors, sizable wood members and 2.5” thick floor boards.
Ten miles to the north led to the last site visit of the day. The Thomas Viaduct near Relay, Maryland is a curvilinear, stone arch railroad viaduct built from 1833 to 1835 by the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad to cross the Patapsco River and be the first railroad to serve Washington, D.C. This interesting structure was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Jr., son of the well-known architect. Its rustic masonry, tapered piers and gentle curve can be easily seen near the entrance to the Patapsco Valley State Park. It still remains in service after almost 190 years, a tribute to its robustness and durability. For its significance the Thomas Viaduct was listed as a NHCEL in 2011.
If you’re interested in learning more about local engineering heritage and or participating in recognizing engineering marvels, please reach out to the NCS History and Heritage Committee.
Text by Bernie Dennis. Photo by John Dumsick with permission for use in the article.
Welcome to the website of the National Capital Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), a professional society for civil engineers. ASCE was founded in 1852, represents 130,000 members of the civil engineering professional worldwide, and is America's oldest national engineering society.
The National Capital Section was founded in 1916 and currently has more than 3,100 members. The section is located in Region 2 (link to region 2: http://region2.asce.org/). The National Capital Section serves the District of Columbia; the counties of Montgomery and Prince Georges in Maryland, except College Park in Prince Georges County; the counties of Fairfax and Arlington, and City of Alexandria in Virginia. The National Capital Section's mission includes:
To advance the professional knowledge and improve the practice of civil engineering for our members and those we serve.
To advocate for our profession with those whose actions affect us, and to educate those whose actions and responsibilities could benefit from a better understanding of the contributions of civil engineers.
To improve our community through effective community outreach programs, local involvement and educational efforts.