Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.
Weidlinger Associates, which merged with Thornton Tomasetti in September 2015, was structural engineer for the design of the 1.8 million square-foot multi-use facility, which occupies 18 acres on the west side of Manhattan. The center comprises 684,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 63,000 square-foot lobby, a 15-story crystal palace, a galleria and a river pavilion. It also includes extensive food-service areas, offices, 50 loading docks, and a one-acre plaza with water walls and a pedestrian link under 11th Avenue.
The primary architectural challenge was to transform traditional convention-center design from a forbidding, windowless box into a welcoming public building that is integrated into the surrounding urban fabric. The solution was a design that exposed the structural system through a transparent skin and a geometry that harmonized the glass, steel, and concrete elements. The roof and lower levels of precast and cast-in-place concrete were used to heighten the dramatic impact of the space as well as to support the huge building.
The Javits Center features a crystalline roof assembled from 747,000 square feet of space-frame components. The system is based on a six-foot glass module and a 10-foot space-frame module, with 30-, 45-, and 90-foot column spacing. The pattern created a sense of reduced scale and resulted in a single, unified rhythmical structure. Long-span bridge concepts were used in the design of the high-capacity precast-concrete upper level deck, which supports large moving trucks. A special platform, which spans the Lincoln Tunnel, was devised to address complex foundation conditions.
The building evokes both the Crystal Palace built for the 1851 London Exhibition and the Galerie des Machines built for the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The open design and use of expressed structure earned several architectural and engineering awards.
We were also the engineer of record for the renovation of the Javits Center that was completed in 2013.
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