View of the Metro Museum from the North.


Building Statistics Parts I & II



General Building Data:
Name:                                                                                Metro Museum of American Art
Location & Site:   Exact Location Withheld: Major City
Building  Occupant:   Metro Museum of American Art
Occupancy Type: Assembly (Museums) A-3
Size (Total Gross Area): 222,952 GSF
Number of Floors:  Nine Stories Above Grade, Eleven Total
Dates of Construction:  10.13.11 – 11.28.14
Total Cost of Construction:  $266,000,000
Project Delivery Method:  Design Bid Build



Primary Project Team:
Owner:          Metro Museum of American Art
  No Website Available
Design Architect:  Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Architect of Record:      Cooper, Robertson & Partners
Construction Manager:  Turner Construction Company
MEP Engineer:   Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Structural Engineer:     Robert Silman Associates
Civil Engineer Philip Habib & Associates


The Metro Museum of American Art (MMAA) building is a new construction building that will house the galleries for the Metro Museum of American Art. It will include 50,000 square feet of traditional indoor gallery space along with 13,000 square feet of outdoor gallery space. Also included in the program is office space for the Metro Museum staff, an education center complete with classrooms and a film room, a restaurant, and a theatre which can hold up to 170 people.Figure 2: View of Metro Museum from the north. Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop

The building site has an abandoned above ground metro line that runs from the north east corner of the site and terminates at the south east corner of the site, which is the entrance of the building. This metro line has been turned into a green walkway / park that pedestrians can use. Figure 1 shows a view from this walkway looking south onto the Metro Museum. This element of the site will be one of the main reasons for the stepped nature of the building described below.    

Interesting Architectural Features
One of the most attractive elements of the building is the large cantilevered entrance. This space gives the building an interesting appeal to people walking down the street and invites them into the space. It also will serve as an extension of the interior of the building giving the patrons a place to gather. This can be seen in the sectional rendering labeled Figure 2.

Figure 3: Sectional rendering of the Museum looking north. Note the cantilevered entrance and the stepped floors creating multiple terraces. Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop.Another interesting feature of the Metro Museum is the stepped nature of the building which can be seen in Figure 2. The east side of the building, which faces the elevated metro line, steps back with each floor creating an outdoor terrace on the roofs of each level. This terrace provides the opportunity for exterior gallery space and also provides excellent views of the metro park and the city itself.

Zoning & Applicable Building Codes
The Metro Museum sits in the M1-5 section of the City and its applicable building codes are as follows.

  • The State Existing Building Code
  • The City Plumbing Code
  • The City Mechanical Code
  • The City Fire Code
  • The City Energy Conservation Construction Code

Note: The actual city and state names have been removed and replaced with generic titles so that the location of the building will not be made known.

Historical Requirements of the District
The Metro Museum is in the Manufacturing district of the city and there are no restrictions for the building due to this.


Figure 4: Section of the metal panel exterior wall type. Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop.BUILDING ENCLOSURE
Building Facade
The Metro Museum has ten different exterior wall types. However, the majority of the building enclosure is made up of a metal panel system. This wall type is an insulated stud wall with an exterior steel plate rain screen cladding system and punched in windows. A section of this wall type can be seen in figure three to the right. Other elements that make up the building enclosure include pre cast concrete planks, and various types of glazing.

Building Roofing

Multiple roofing systems make up the building enclosure. Here the primary systems will be described and discussed. First, the south roof has multiple clearstories running east to west. Around these clearstories the roofing consists of a gutter system with painted galvanized metal grating with snow melting cables where the gutter is less than five feet wide. Below the grating there is a layer of gravel followed by a composite drainage panel and waterproofing membrane.

Next the north side of the roof is made up of integrally footed pre-cast concrete pavers that are backed up with ridged insulation and a composite drainage panel. Located in the middle of the north roof and surrounded by these concrete pavers is a green roofing system. This system is made up of a 4” layer of growing medium, filter fabric, drainage tray and a moisture retention mat. Below this there is a root barrier, ridged insulation, and a waterproofing membrane.

Due to the stepped nature of the building a lot of the building’s roof area has been turned into terraces. These terrace roofs consist of a 4” wearing course of cast in place concrete that is backed up with ridged insulation, a composite drainage mat, and a waterproofing membrane. An example of this roof type is shown in Figure 4 below.Figure 5: Sectional View of the Terrace Roofing System. Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

Sustainability Features
The goal for the Metro Museum is to achieve at least a LEED silver rating, and possibly achieve a LEED gold rating. To do this a LEED action plan was developed and the points worth pursuing were established. One of the main sustainability features is the green roof mentioned above. This along with other points such as construction waste management and enhanced commissioning will make the Metro Museum friendlier to the environment.





Structural System
The structural system for the MMAA consists of a concrete slab on composite metal deck that bears on structural steel framing. The structural engineer, Robert Silman Associates (RSA), considered many structural systems such as a flat plate concrete system, post-tensioned concrete structure, and the system that would ultimately be used. RSA determined that the steel frame with concrete on composite deck would be the most effective scheme because it is the lightest, most cost effective, and left the owner with most flexibility for future uses.

The structural system uses multiple concentrically braced frames to resist the horizontal forces on the building. These braced frames are located throughout the building and consist of mainly W shaped steel members; however a few of the braced frames utilize HSS shapes as well. There is also one large truss/braced frame that runs along the entire south side of the building between the fifth and sixth floors. This location is adjacent to where the largest column free gallery in the city is located.

The nine story building is framed with mainly with W shaped structural steel members that are connected with a mix of shear and moment connections. There is also horizontal bracing consisting of HSS and L shaped members within the floor framing where needed. The columns are almost all W12 or W14s with the exception of a few custom made pipe and bar columns.   

There are two cranes on site during the steel erection. First there is a Liebherr LR 1200 crawler crane located on the south central perimeter location of the site. Also there is a Favelle Favco tower crane whose tower ascends through the grand staircase of the museum.


Mechanical Systems
The mechanical makeup for the Metro Museum is complex and uses many different types of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems to make the building comfortable all year long. The air conditioning systems used for the galleries, office spaces, lobby, auditorium, and restaurant will be discussed here; including what feeds the hot and cold water coils of these systems.

The gallery and office spaces will be served by an all-air, variable air volume conditioning system. This system will consist of a total of four air conditioning units. Three of the four units are located in the cellar fan room and will each handle one third of the load for the gallery/office spaces that are located between the cellar and seventh floors. The fourth unit is located in the fan room on the ninth floor and will serve the eighth floor spaces. Supply air to, and return air from, each floor will be carried through multiple mechanical riser shafts throughout the building. The supply air that will be going to the gallery spaces will be controlled by VAV units that are located adjacent to the air conditioning systems in the cellar or ninth floor fan rooms. Once the air is transferred to its destination it is delivered to and returned from the space by traditional diffusers and grilles in the office areas; or in the case of the galleries an open ceiling plenum is used for the return air. The lobby, auditorium, and restaurant are all conditioned by similar in nature, but independent air conditioning systems. These systems are factory-assembled packaged all-air constant volume systems that are also located in the cellar fan room.

The chilled water for these mechanical systems originates from three electrically driven centrifugal refrigeration machines that are sized at 300 tons-refrigeration each. These are all located in the cellar of the building and each have an individual pump that will distribute the chilled water to its end users throughout the building. The building heat originates from a hot water boiler plant also located in the cellar that includes five condensing three million BTUh hot water boilers. Pumps then circulate the hot water to the air conditioning systems or finned tube radiators.


Electrical / Lighting Systems
Two electrical service lines enter the building’s electrical room at the south west side of the cellar level from the vault / bus compartment of the service provider. Each line connects to a separate service switchboard that has a rating of 4,000A, 3ø, 4W, 208Y/120V. The two service switchboards also run a bus to two identical distribution switchboards that have the same rating of the service switchboards. From these four switchboards all of the power is distributed throughout the building. Also worth noting is that the lighting system in the building varies throughout the building. The lighting in the gallery spaces is mostly flourescent track lighting.

An interesting idea that the project team had for the electrical service was to get at least partial service from the permanent electrical equipment up and running as early as possible on the project. In order to do this the masons would be directed to complete the interior electrical room first and then it would be made watertight before any other part of the building. Once this is done then the electrical equipment could be installed in the electrical room and the buildings permanent power source could be energized and distributed earlier than usual.


Fire Protection Systems
The fire protection system for the Metro Museum is a full building sprinkler system. The network consists of three different types of sprinkler systems; preaction, dry, and wet. The preaction system is used in sensitive areas of the Museum such as server rooms where accidental discharge of the system is critical to avoid. The dry system uses an air buffer in the lines so that the pipes do not burst in cold temperatures; this makes it an ideal system for areas such as the truck bay. Finally, the wet system is a generic sprinkler used in all other areas that the dry and preaction sprinklers are not being used.


This section will provide insight into some of the constructability challenges that are present on the Metro Museum of American Art (MMAA) project. The MMAA is a complex job in a downtown location with a tight schedule considering the size of the project. Some of the main constructability issues have arisen from the downtown site location and the constraints that come along with that. Some of the issues include the excavation and foundation dewatering, where to place the cranes on site, and public safety.

Excavation, Foundation, & Dewatering
In the past the MMAA’s project site was underwater in the cities river. For years the project site was used as a landfill for unwanted excavated material. This continuous dumping of unwanted soil in this area eventually moved the river back to its current location. However, it did not leave the site with suitable soil conditions for construction. This becomes an issue because as you can imagine the bearing capacity of the soil on the site cannot hold the pressure associated with such a large building as the MMAA. A geotechnical investigation confirmed this and the project team decided that due to the poor soil conditions under the site that a deep foundation will be used that consists of caissons/piles that are socked into bedrock.

Another issue with this phase of the project is that the site location is still very close to the cities river. The cellar floor of the MMAA is scheduled to be 20’ below grade even though the water table is anywhere from 6 to 12 feet below grade. This creates a constructability challenge during the excavation phase of the project. The site would constantly fill up with water once excavation progressed past the water table. In order to stop this from becoming a problem Turner installed 8 deep wells which pumped the on-site water into a sedimentation tank, then through a filter back into the city sewer system.

Tower Crane Placement
One of the main issues on site is the fact that there is little or no room for any staging or equipment. The site is very constricted due to its downtown location. Plus in order to keep up with the project schedule more than one crane would be necessary on site. So, the queston is where to locate the cranes on site?

A crawler crane will be the first on site and will be located at the south central perimeter of the building. A tower crane will also be needed on site for the steel erection. However, it cannot be placed on the east or north perimeter of the building due to the existing highline and building structures. If a crane is put on the west perimeter of the building the staging and trailer area would become nonexistant and then neither of the cranes would be able to reach the north east corner of the site to place the steel. It would not make any sense to place the crane on the south perimeter with the crawler crane. So, the crane would have to be located within the site. It was determined that the tower crane should be place in the shaft of the grand staircase. This will provide the cranes the reach to place any steel member in the building and meet the productivity demands of the schedule.

This placement produces one issue in itself. The grand staircase is lined by cast in place concrete panels. So, the tower crane will have to be deconstructed first, then the crawler crane will have to hoist these concrete panels down the open shaft and into place well after the rest of the panels have allready been finished. Another interesting note about the cranes mobilization is that the crawler crane will erect the south central area of the first floor structural steel first so that a working platform could be created for the structural steel trailers and workers. This will also provide lateral bracing for the foundation structure and the cross lot bracing can be removed in those areas.

Public Safety
Another construction issue that arises from the downtown location is preserving the safety of the public. The site is located in a downtown location that is in the middle of a developing shopping, restaurant, and bar area. Also, the pedestrian highline walkway is directly adjacent to the building’s east side and is scheduled to remain open throughout the construction of the MMAA. Because of all of this there will be a very high level of pedestrian activity during and after work hours on the site. In order to protect the public Turner implemented a few safety measures. First an eight foot high barricade was put up around the entire perimeter of the site. There is signage throughout the barricade warning the public of the construction zone. At the three gates there is a staff member insuring that nobody from the public enters the site unless they are required to and have the proper personal protective equipment. Next, an overhead protection barrier was built above the open pedestrian walkway. Finally on the west side of the site a  five foot wide covered pedestrian walkway was constructed between the site barricade and the adjacent roadway. All of these measures are necessary to keep the public safe while around the MMAA.


About AE Senior Thesis:

The Capstone Project Electronic Portfolio (CPEP) is a web‐based project and information center. It contains material produced for a year‐long Senior Thesis class. Its purpose, in addition to providing central storage of individual assignments, is to foster communication and collaboration between student, faculty consultant, course instructors, and industry consultants. This website is dedicated to the research and analysis conducted via guidelines provided by the Department of Architectural Engineering. For an explanation of this capstone design course and its requirements click here.


Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work‐inprogress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Vincent A. Rossi. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.

Note: All images on this page are property of Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

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This page was last updated on 9.4.12, by Vincent A. Rossi and is hosted by the AE Department ©2012