MINNEAPOLIS (June 18, 2012) – Radius Track Corporation, the leading authority on designing and creating curved, cold-form steel (CFS) structures, has completed its groundbreaking design and fabrication of the unitized panels for the giant skylight oculus atop the Fulton Center in the Lower Manhattan district of New York City. As the most striking design feature of the new transit and retail hub, the daylight-delivering oculus brings natural light deep into the building via the glass-enclosed central atrium.

Fulton Transit CenterWhen complete, Fulton Center will simplify the maze of platforms, entrances and exits around the eleven subway lines that serve Lower Manhattan. It will also provide an underground connection between those lines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s PATH train hub, the World Trade Center, and the ferries at the World Financial Center. Fulton Center will be a retail destination with over 70,000 square feet of leasable space. 

During the planning process, Radius Track demonstrated its unique approach to manufacturing and installing pre-fabricated panels made specifically for projects that challenge conventional construction methods. Engineers worked with the task of enclosing the cone-shaped profile with custom-shaped steel panels surrounding the space-animating skylight. Working against a tight construction schedule, Radius Track created a special sequencing system from an offsite location to cut down on building costs and set the construction team up for a seamless installation process.

Radius Track was responsible for lining the oculus with pre-fabricated panels. The oculus base (conical section) measures almost 60 feet tall at its highest point and spans 90 feet across at its base diameter, covering a total surface area of 8,294 square feet. The job required 44 panels, each measuring about eight-feet wide and up to twenty-seven-feet high. Organized in two tiers and fit together with expert precision, the panels highlight Radius Track’s mastery of 3D computer modeling, accurate and economical detailing, specific attention to connections, and cutting edge technology – all rolled into one package.

Housed atop a large glass structure, the oculus’s glass ceiling allows light to stream into the interior space below and addresses the station’s former problems with low lighting. The oculus sits on a large, truncated (sliced at an angle) cone positioned atop a glass box that encloses the building. Grimshaw Architects, Design Architect and Architect of Record, worked closely with Arup, was responsible for engineering services, and leader of the Design Project Management Team. They designed the building for the Fulton Center to solve the safety and aesthetic concerns that marred the old space. Formerly an old dark subway space, the new space is now ‘enlightened’ by the new oculus centerpiece, serving as a sky lit sunroof.

“Radius Track brought clarity to the process of engineering the pre-fabricated oculus panels by ‘quarterbacking’ online meetings using advanced BIM tools,” says Kevin Haney, project manager at Plaza Construction in New York City. “Radius Track delved into the nitty-gritty details and shared them with us right on our screens, enabling the design team to make decisions during meetings, instead of pushing them off to later. Radius Track CEO Chuck Mears’ mastery of collaborative software brought our team together instantly and effectively. Even with many team members right in New York City, it was still helpful to meet online because travel time in the City can eat into schedules quickly.”

Allen Kasden, project executive at Plaza Construction, agrees. “Radius Track’s expertise in 3-D modeling greatly benefitted both us and the Donaldson Organization, the facade framing and interior subcontractor.”

“We had originally envisioned this project to be stick built,” says Matt Zettwoch, project manager at the Donaldson Organization. “The idea of creating pre-fabricated panels offsite which could be installed onsite saved us a great deal of time and labor costs. We did the installation in two-and-a-half weeks and averaged seven panels a day. It could have been a far different story had we stick built the oculus walls and parapet onsite, and would have required elaborate scaffolding.”

“We see our work on the Fulton Center oculus as an important breakthrough in the delivery of a challenging design concept,” says Mears. “New York City is iconic for its transportation systems, and it’s exciting to be a key contributor to its latest statement piece which continues that pacesetting leadership.”

The Fulton Center, expected to be completed in 2014, highlights the challenges of constructing buildings high above ground, especially in dense urban settings like New York City. It is an exceptional case study of how the combination of 3D modeling and framing prowess can save time and money.

Project Team
Design Architect/Architect of Record:  Grimshaw Architects
Engineer/Design Project Mgmt. Lead:  ARUP
General Contractor:  Plaza-Schiavone Construction Joint Venture
Core and Shell Contractors: Donaldson Interiors
Building Enclosure Contractor: Jordan Panel Systems Corp.
Distributor (Curved Framing Solution): Park Avenue Building & Roofing Supplies, LLC
Framing Structural Engineer: THH, Inc.
Curved Framing Solutions: Radius Track Corporation

About Radius Track Corporation
Radius Track Corporation is the country’s premier expert and provider of curved cold-formed steel framing solutions. The company designs cost-saving solutions for clients and fabricates the steel framing for domes, curved ceilings and acoustical panels, curved facades and any other type of curved surface. Radius Track offers its expertise via consulting services (Design and BIM/3D Modeling); custom fabricated steel framing (Curved-Right® Custom Framing), hand-bendable framing products (Ready Track®, Ready Arch® and Ready Angle®) and hand tools for use in the field (Radius Track® and Trim Bender™ Tools). RADIUS TRACK, founded in 1996, is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. For additional information, visit www.radiustrack.com, email info@radiustrack.com or call 888-872-3487.

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