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Thornton Tomasetti Wins Top SEAKM Award For Excellence In Engineering For Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh

May 02, 2010

(Kansas City, Mo. – May 2, 2010) – Thornton Tomasetti, the international engineering firm with practices in building structure, building skin and building performance, is the recipient of the Structural Engineers Association of Kansas & Missouri (SEAKM) 2010 Grand Prize for Engineering Excellence Award for its work on the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Penn. The project was also honored in the New Buildings Over $100M category.

Upon its opening in the fall of 2010, the 720,000-square-foot CONSOL Energy Center will be a state-of-the-art ice hockey arena for the City of Pittsburgh and 2009 Stanley Cup Champions, NHL Pittsburgh Penguins. The $321-million facility is utilizing a moderately accelerated fast-track project delivery approach and is in pursuit of LEED Gold certification. With its capacity to host hockey, basketball, concerts and an assortment of other events, the arena will serve as the anchor of the urban redevelopment district in Pittsburgh.

“We are honored to once again receive the recognition of our peers in the industry for our work on CONSOL Energy Center,” said Steve Hofmeister, P.E., S.E., LEED AP, principal of Thornton Tomasetti’s Kansas City office. “This is Thornton Tomasetti’s fourth SEAKM Engineering Excellence Award in the past five years and a testament to our continued dedication to teamwork and integrated project delivery. We are happy to accept this award on behalf of the entire design team.”

Designed by Populous architects (formerly HOK Sport+Venue+Event), CONSOL Energy Center features a 100-foot atrium, with a dramatic spine wall along the west façade, providing a spectacular view into the concourse and suite levels of the building. Not only is there an elevation change across the site, the building is cut into and is founded on bedrock at the north end of the site and drilled piers extending through almost 30 feet of unconsolidated fill at the south end. Rammed aggregate piers were required for slab support for much of the building footprint including the ice sheet. In addition, controlled low-strength materials were utilized as backfill behind a 28-foot-tall by 500-foot-long basement wall reducing vertical and lateral earth pressures and settlement, creating retail space along the entire south end of the arena.

Inside the arena, all catwalk and rigging girds have been placed at the top chord of the arch trusses, leaving the plunging tension tie prominently exposed. This element enhances the interior view, while significantly simplifying the structural steel construction.

Due to the complex foundation wall system, Thornton Tomasetti also provided specialty engineering services for the contractor to aid in meeting the required construction schedule and budget. This service included the design of detailed bracing plans as well as working with the contractor to revise backfill schedules to match the state of completion of the primary structure.

SEAKM comprises individual structural engineers who have come together for the betterment of their profession. The mission of the organization is to hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public with respect to the design, analysis, construction and inspection of structures, while improving the practice of structural engineering.

About Thornton Tomasetti (
Thornton Tomasetti provides engineering services to clients worldwide on buildings of all sizes and complexity. From the tallest buildings and the longest spans, to innovative building systems and materials, the firm is committed to creating the best solutions through its technical ingenuity, pursuit of excellence, and responsiveness to client needs. Our work is in three practice areas: Building Structures, Building Skin and Building Performance. Founded in 1956 as Lev Zetlin & Associates, today Thornton Tomasetti is a 550-person organization of engineers and architects collaborating from offices across the United States and in Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, and the Middle East.

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