MINNEAPOLIS (June 10, 2010) - While Kansas City residents await the construction of their city's world class performing arts center, the team at Radius Track Corporation has been creating its own symphony of steel designed to support the magnificent curves of the sculpted Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The Center itself is an approximately 285,000 square-foot facility with two technically sophisticated performance spaces: the 1,800-seat proscenium-style Muriel Kauffman Theatre and 1,600-seat concert Helzberg Hall. The Kauffman Center will cover 13 acres. The technical requirements and exacting standards required of a facility like the Kauffman Center make it among the most complex structures in today's modern architectural landscape.
Radius Track, the world's premier provider of curved structural framing and 3D modeling for curved surfaces, was originally tasked with providing the underlying steel structure for the highly specific, unusual detail of the concert hall walls. The "bumps", as they are called, are a series of acoustically specific, multi-radiused bulges in the performing arts center walls which solve some very challenging acoustic issues. Radius Track provided all the 3D modeling, light gauge steel framing design and fabrication for the project.
In other eras these bumps would have been framed with a "close enough" mentality and would have visually performed to that level. Today, with the extremely sophisticated acoustical engineering solutions that are applied to performing arts centers of this high caliber, "close enough" wasn't going to allow this large musical space to be "tuned" properly.
Radius Track designed a precise, consistent framing solution using straight and curved steel studs and track along with laser-cut steel shapes for the small bumps. While normal stud spacing is 16" on center, Radius Track devised a way to create rib frames at 36" on center and bridged them with lighter gauge hat channels that could flex with the room's geometry. "This approach not only solved a perplexing detail, but raised the bar by creating an ingeniously simple solution which saved significant time and material with impeccable results," says Radius Track CEO Chuck Mears, AIA. Fifty-seven of these frames were produced offsite in controlled shop environments to meet the exacting standards this project demanded.
Radius Track's scope of work expanded to include the ceilings for the Concert Hall and Proscenium Theater, the balcony facing reflector walls and the donor's area ceiling. All of these areas were modeled using 3D computer technology to virtually build the spaces before a single piece was fabricated. This process of Building Information Modeling (BIM), also known as Integrated Project Delivery, pulls the project team together earlier in the process of design and brings them into close communication so that coordination of systems and specific locations of elements can be worked out prior to material being fabricated. Clashes (or conflicts in overlapping locations) are resolved in the 3D model, so when the pieces are delivered to the jobsite they can be installed with confidence.
Similar innovation was employed for the undulating ceiling designs. With the help of partner structural engineers, Radius Track was able to successfully handle the weight of 25-pound acoustical plaster, attached equipment and other loads. With a crisply detailed solution that again extended the spacing of stud members and utilized hat channels half the size of normal framing, Radius Track solved another series of acoustically specific profiles with exacting proficiency. With the use of advanced framing approaches like these, Radius Track was able to significantly lower the per-square-foot weight of framing, resulting in measurable cost and labor savings. To simplify installation, 16' x 20' panels were designed to be built on the floor then lifted into place when complete - especially challenging with ceilings that are bowing, arching and curving.
About Radius Track Corporation
Radius Track Corporation is the country's premier expert and provider of curved light gauge steel applications. The company designs cost-saving solutions for clients and fabricates the steel structural framing for domes, curved ceilings, custom forms, archways and any other type of curved surface. Radius Track offers its expertise via consulting services, custom fabricated steel framing members, hand-bendable framing products and hand tools for use in the field. It operates four divisions, including BIM and 3D Modeling Services, Curved-Right® Custom Framing, Ready Products Hand-Bendable Curved Framing and Radius Track Bender® and Radius Trim Bender™ Curved Framing Tools. RTC, founded in 1996, is headquartered in Minneapolis. For additional information, call-888-872-3487, or visit http://www.radiustrack.com.