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Savannah Convention Center: Complex steel detailing simplified by Tekla API & Custom Components

SANRIA ENGINEERING is a technology-driven company whose principles are rooted in commitment, customer relationship and the most important project element “quality”. SANRIA utilizes Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) and BIM platforms (Tekla Structures) to perform connection design and structural steel detailing. Their other services range from laser scanning services, retrofit design & mapping, building as-built 3D models, estimation studies, material take off services and project management. SANRIA has executed several structural steel connection design and detailing projects with steel tonnages ranging from 500 tons to surplus of 40,000 tons and serving Architectural, Commercial, Power, Chemicals & Fertilizers, Oil & Gas industries and more.

Building the LEED Gold recognized Savannah Convention Center 

Located on Hutchinson Island, Florida, the Savannah Convention Center (SCC) is a 330,000 sq. ft. waterfront complex on the Savannah river featuring 100,000 sq. ft. of divisible exhibit space and 50,000 sq. ft. of prime meeting space, including 13 meeting rooms, 4 executive board rooms, a 25,000 sq. ft. grand ballroom, and a state-of-art 367-seat auditorium. The SCC is the first convention center in the state of Georgia to receive the LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) recognition from the US Green Building Council. The convention center has complimentary access via the Savannah Belles water ferry to the world-renowned historic district. It is adjacent to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. The historic district includes the Hyatt Regency, Savannah Marriott Riverfront, and Desoto Hotel, accompanied by many other eclectic and unique lodging options for conference attendees.

STEEL LLC awarded SANRIA Engineering with the task of connection designing & detailing of Savannah Georgia Convention Center which weighed 4269 tonnes collectively comprising of 68 sequences.

“Tekla is a high-end software where we can add on plug-ins and automation tools that can support our custom workflows & output requirements. We developed our own custom components as well to make the workflow smooth, to mitigate the complexities in many areas like truss connections, hang points, etc. Tekla software easily enabled exporting and importing files to and from other related software too. The most outstanding part of the software is that with every new updated version it brings exciting features which are industry-leading.” 

-  Poornima S R, Project Lead, SANRIA Engineering

Unique challenges of this riverside super structure 

This super structure has three areas, west concourse, east concourse and the ballroom. The grand structure has 45,000 tons of steel and the ballroom only is of 2,500 tons. The front facade has used king post column spread across the ballroom facing the riverside. These king post columns are the most complex, made up of conical shape developed by rolling of plates, and then joined with round pipes at the top.

Out of the three concourses, the most complex structure is the ballroom having curved slope roof members with large trusses spanning more than 300 ft., tying up in each other. The project executing team modelled the cambered trusses, facing complex connections due to heavy design loads and large number of different sizes. 

Some of the other challenges that the team faced were,

  • Applying SCBF connections by providing surface treatment for the protected zone area
  • Shop assembled frames
  • Co-ordination with joist, curtain walls & elevators

Capitalizing on Tekla Plug-ins & Custom Components

Reference model scale:

Couple of the major issues involved in the project were the time consumed in the member placement as well as dimensions missing between grids.

The project team was able to reduce these issues significantly by using the reference model scale tool that helped in scaling the design drawing to an absolute scale and thus enabling faster member placement. The imported design drawing were mapped and placed into the model using the reference model scale tool.

UDA List:

Whenever certain information needs to be inserted through user fields you would require availability of a steel license and also the user going to that particular tab of user field which would consume significant time of the team involved in the project execution.

The UDA list feature served as a handy tool in entering the user field for the desired member without the constraints of needing a steel licence and the team also found it relatively easy to access compared to the traditional approach which further helped them in entering relevant information into the model faster than the usual time taken for it.

Zeman Export Tool:

The team needed to segregate the drawings based on manual weld and weld through robot. For this, they created an in-house extension that would let the team know whether the welds associated with particular member are to be applied manually or by a robot.
The application fills in the relative user field with appropriate data concerning the type of weld. This helped the team in streamlining the weld classification by automating it and avoiding manual interpretation of it. By using demonic sport tool they were able to convert the data into a readable format similar to NC file in a project and then fed into the robot for appropriate welds. This allowed the team to spend minimum time on welds and increased the efficiency & availability of weld information and type of weld.

Hilti Catalogue:

Creating Hilti bolt manually would consume a lot of time of the team depending upon the variety of Hilti bolt lengths involved in the project.

By using the Hilti bulk catalog created by Tekla the team was able to use Hilti profiles in the project without going through the manual process of creating each of them.

Custom Components:

In order to reduce the modeling time of the special connections, the team identified connections with high repeatability and only slight changes in the parameters and created custom components.
The team also applied certain hang point connections as well as anchor bolt, nailer hole, bent plate with DBA and HSS closure connections using custom components.

2D Drawing Library:

On the editing front the executing team implemented several ideas to increase productivity. One such idea being 2D drawing library.
The team created a library of sections, plans, repeated information within a drawing using this tool, and called for it whenever required. This helped them in processing the editing phase swiftly without going through repeated activities multiple times.

Drawing content manager:

One of the meticulous tasks for complex assemblies is to call out part marks in the drawing. This being a strenuous task on the front of editing and checking the project team implemented the use of drawing content manager. 
Using this feature the team was able to make sure that each member shown within the drawing has a part mark associated with it. Since the feature assigns the part mark automatically, the error percentage reduced greatly, enhancing the efficiency to a whole new level.