Officials Predict Increased Speed Core Usage


According to Shannon Testa, Director of Commercial Markets for Rainer Square Tower, the speed core technology used to erect the structure could become more popular in the commercial construction industry.

The prediction arises month's after the project’s successful topping out.

About the Project

At the early stages of the project, structural engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) was tasked with the planning and development of the Seattle-based Rainer Square Tower, which was envisioned to have a reinforced concrete core.

However, reports claim that halfway through the development, costs for the project proved to be too high, making it economically unfeasible for the building’s owner and developer, Wright Runstad & Co.

The project was then tabled for a year and picked by up in 2006 and 2007 by MKA for design and construction ideas—including the SpeedCore system—that could be used to speed up the project’s construction. In developing the concept, Purdue University assisted MKA researchers in solidifying the high-rise specific type of construction.

“We went into the laboratory and started to test the performance of these panels in a high-rise scenario,” Klemencic said, “because the way the wall behaves (under those conditions) fundamentally is different than if it were a short, squat wall for a nuclear power plant, for instance.”

By January 2018, PaintSquare Daily News reported that the design of the new “proof of concept” tower could change the game for towers’ seismic and wind resistance.

Developed by structural engineer Ron Klemencic, chairman and CEO of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, the application is the first of its kind for a building of such height and planned to use a composite structural steel frame instead of the traditional steel frame around a reinforced concrete core.

The 58-story tower’s construction was slated to take 40% less time than a traditional design. Those in charge of erecting the steel superstructure—set to begin in August—said that job would take about one year (around nine months less than normal).

Additionally, the American Institute of Steel Construction estimates that the system will be rated with an R Factor of R=8 once studies surrounding the coupled composite steel plate shear walls system are completed.

By May, the new core system design was approved by a three-person peer-review panel.

In August 2019, the $370 million Rainier Square Tower officially became Seattle’s second tallest skyscraper in the city, topping out at 850 feet in just 10 months.

Encompassing 1.7 million square feet, the Rainier Square Tower includes a mix of ground-floor retail, underground parking, office space and 200 of the highest luxury apartments in the city.

The project was designed by NBBJ, a global architecture firm based in Seattle and reveals an inverse reflection of the curved base of the Rainier Tower next door, having a wide base instead that curves after the fourth floor, creating a narrow angle as it climbs upward.

The exterior of the building was covered in a nonstructural curtain wall that was designed, assembled and installed by Walters & Wolf, in collaboration with 3Diligent. Together, the companies produced 140 3D-printed aluminum nodes of varying dimensions for the tower’s cladding.

Last month, the tower was reported to undergo a small redesign as it was abandoning plans for a 12-story, 150-room hotel, that had been planned to be built adjacent to the skyscraper and share a podium with the tower.

Although the changes won’t be noticed by those passing on the street, the redesign of the structure will accommodate additional office space instead of the previously intended hotel.

What’s Happening Now

In addition to the Testa’s prediction regarding the construction technology, Lawrence Kruth, Vice President of Engineering and Research at the American Institute of Steel Construction, also believes that erection crews will find SpeedCore useful in the industry.

Kruth points out that only did the building method save time, but also allowed Rainer’s owners to save more than $10 million.

“So, speed is a big difference,” he said, “but speed is money.”

According to reports, the SpeedCore system also offers other strength, flexibility and safety benefits as well. However, to be adapted industrywide, the technology needs more than just one case study since there hasn’t been a design manual developed at this time.

Currently, AISC is working on a design guide, but is reported to only be about 30% finished.

Until the book is completed, MKA is currently working on the design of six projects in California that are slated to include the system.

Kruth adds, referring to the technology, “We get questions about it all the time. People in the industry really want to try this.”


Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Completed projects; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Good Technical Practice; NA; North America; Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Technology

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