Resiliency has become an oft-used buzzword in the architecture and design industries as building professionals seek methods for countering increasingly intense hurricane activity, wildfires, flooding and other natural events. Natural disasters cost the U.S. a combined $136 billion in 2018 and 2019, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a sign that a growing number of extreme weather events are taking a significant economic toll.
Cold-formed steel framing contributes to new city hall resiliency
But what defines a resilient building? Put simply, resilience refers to a building’s ability to withstand, respond to and recover rapidly from extreme events in a cost-effective manner. Of course, fortifying a structure against hurricane force winds and minimizing loss from fire present entirely unique sets of design challenges. With so many potential forces at work against a building, it’s important to take a holistic approach to resilient design and specify materials that are able to protect a structure on multiple fronts.
When it comes to framing, there is no more resilient option than cold-formed steel (CFS). Here are five reasons why CFS contributes to the overall resiliency of a building:
1. It’s highly ductile. CFS can easily bend or stretch without breaking when force is applied. This gives it a higher degree of resistance to lateral loads, uplift and gravity loading, such as those imposed on a structure by seismic or high wind events.
2. CFS is non-combustible. According to the Steel Framing Industry Association, both load-bearing and non-load-bearing CFS-framed assemblies are fireproof up to four hours when subjected to tests conforming to ASTM E119.
3. CFS is durable. It is corrosion resistant, doesn’t retain moisture and won’t harbor mold growth. Cold-formed steel utilizes zinc or similar coatings to boost durability and will last hundreds of years before its corrosion resistance deteriorates.
4. CFS is one of the few building materials completely impervious to termites and other pests in any climate or building type.
5. CFS is a highly sustainable material. Steel framing contains on average a minimum of 25% recycled content and is 100% recyclable at the end of its life.
Town Hall Built with CFS Resiliency
After nearly 70 years operating out of a historic elementary school that dates back to 1910, the City of Boerne, Texas, has a new City Hall to call home. Designed by Randall Scott Architects, Richardson, Texas, the $22 million facility represents a major milestone for the rapidly growing community 45 miles northwest of San Antonio.
Because of its significance to the community, the design team needed to ensure the new 45,300-square-foot city hall was built using materials and techniques that would ensure the building remains a part of the city’s cultural identity for decades to come.
“In Europe, buildings that are 300 to 500 years old are prized by their citizens; they cherish them, refurbish and repurpose them,” says Randall Scott, AIA, founding principal and CEO of Randall Scott Architects, alluding to the Boerne City Hall’s Germanic-influenced design. “Our hope with this building is that it will become a beloved iconic multi-century building. With the amount of stone on the building, the type of construction utilized and the structural steel framing throughout the building, it would take a catastrophic event to do significant harm to that building.”
To help achieve that goal, the architect consulted closely with general contractor Lee Lewis Construction Lubbock, Texas, and installer Millard Drywall & Acoustical Construction, Austin, Texas, to specify a number of steel framing solutions for the building’s interior and exterior framing. In total, the project team installed roughly 250,000 pounds of ClarkDietrich cold-formed steel on the project, including the ProSTUD Drywall Framing System, MaxTrak Slotted Deflection Track and Danback Flexible Wood Backing System. The team also leveraged the company’s Clip Express Service for fast and economical steel framing connection solutions.
The city hall project has raised the profile of this community of just over 18,000 residents and will be a landmark the city can be proud of for a very long time. “A project of this size is always going to have its challenges,” says Mason Sierra, estimator for Millard Drywall. “But at the end, I’m pretty sure everyone’s going to be really proud to have been a part of a building we hope is going to be standing for the next 100 years or more.”
Jen Edgar is corporate product manager for ClarkDietrich, West Chester, Ohio, where she oversees product launches and marketing for all of the company’s framing and finishing products. To learn more, visit www.clarkdietrich.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.