Civil engineering society recognizes six innovative projects

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) selected six merit finalists for the 2003 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award.

Washington, D.C., March 24, 2003 -- The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) selected six merit finalists for the 2003 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award -- the Alameda Corridor in Southern California; the HOST Park Seawater Supply Pipeline in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; the Quadracci Pavillion, an addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles; the rebuilding of the portion of the Pentagon damaged in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, known as the Phoenix Project; and the World Trade Center Disaster Site Recovery.

Selected from a group of 27 nominations, the finalists are exemplary of how civil engineering can contribute to a community's economic success, improve the quality of life for local residents and lift the spirits of an embattled nation. All finalists will be honored and the OCEA winner announced on Thursday, May 1, at the ASCE's fourth annual Outstanding Projects and Leaders awards gala at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

"The OCEA award celebrates civil engineering ingenuity for developing innovative solutions to the everyday challenges that communities face nationwide," said ASCE President Thomas L. Jackson, P.E., F.ASCE. "The OCEA finalists exemplify the ideals of innovation, technical excellence, community benefit and artistry."

The Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile-long freight rail line linking the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach to the transcontinental rail yards near downtown Los Angeles, consolidates rail traffic from four existing branch lines, allowing trains to run between the ports and downtown in less than 45 minutes. Prior to construction, the trip could take more than two hours.

The Corridor's signature feature is a $783-million mid-corridor railway trench, a below-grade open trainway that is 30 feet deep and lies between two adjacent major roadways. Constructed in just two years, the trench was built through urban areas using the design/build concept and incorporating additional roadway improvements. The corridor is designed to accommodate upwards of 100 train trips per day. Currently, there is an average of 35 train trips that travel the Corridor daily.

The shift of rail traffic to the corridor has increased public safety by eliminating at-grade crossings on the Corridor and considerably reducing train movements at nearly 200 grade crossings on the branch lines. The Corridor provides multiple environmental benefits as well. Original estimates projected that traffic delays at crossings would be reduced by 90 percent, train emissions would be reduced by 28 percent and emissions from idling cars and trucks would be reduced by 54 percent.

The HOST Park Seawater Supply Pipeline is the world's deepest large diameter seawater intake pipeline, plunging from the shoreline to a depth of 3,000 feet along the steep coast of the island of Hawaii. This 9,100-foot-long pipeline, constructed of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), is unique in its purpose to bring unrefined ocean water back to the island, rather than convey treated wastewater or storm-water overflows to the ocean.

The seawater supply system is ready to provide 27,000 gallons per minute of nutrient-rich cold seawater and 40,500 gallons per minute of warm surface water, both for commercial aquaculture and energy research.

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) labored for a dozen years to see the pipeline built. By bringing cold ocean water to the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST Park), a research and commercial facility at Keahole Point, NELHA will help the state diversify and expand its economy.

STA-1 West and STA-2 are just two of the six large treatment wetlands that have been constructed, totaling over 40,000 acres. These six constructed wetlands will remove over 160 metric tons per year of phosphorus when fully operational.

The Quadracci Pavillion, the new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, has generated international attention for both its architect Santiago Calatrava and its home city. The addition consists of three major components: a central building; a 90-foot-high glass-walled reception hall enclosed by the Burke Brise Soleil, a movable sunscreen that functions as a unique kinetic sculpture; and a suspended pedestrian bridge with a 200-foot-tall angled mast and cables that links the lakefront and museum to downtown Milwaukee.

The expansion provides the museum with 30 percent more space for art in both the new and existing buildings, including the new 12,000-square-foot traveling exhibition gallery. Although it is one of the most unique buildings in the world, the museum is a functional building, accommodating three times the number of visitors as its predecessor. The expansion has allowed the museum to gain stature in the art world and tap into previously unknown sources of revenue. Most of all, it has become a symbol for Milwaukee and an example of the great effect that a private entity with visionary leadership can have on a city.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was conceived as not just a place of worship for Roman Catholics but also as a beacon of hope and faith for all city residents. Engineers were challenged to design and build a structure that would endure for 500 years as symbol of enduring power of faith.

Planned as a concrete shear wall structure cruciform, the church seats 3,000 and rises 120 feet above street level, with steel trusses supporting its copper roof. The key to the structural success of the project is a base isolation system that enables the building to move independently of its foundation in the event of an earthquake. Below the nave is a mausoleum, and below that a space for seismic base isolators of high-damping rubber. The cathedral's foundation combines mat, strip and spread footings connected with tie beams. The structure is surrounded by a 28-inch-wide dry moat that will allow 27 inches of lateral displacement. The cathedral's freestanding bell tower rises 156 feet above street level and issupported by friction pendulum seismic base isolators. Structural walls vary in thickness from 12 to 58 inches. The design of the exposed concrete elements utilizes durable materials and configurations. Additionally, special emphasis was placed on mitigating concrete cracking and increasing long-term durability.

Two OCEA projects, the Phoenix Project and the World Trade Center Disaster Site Recovery, began within hours following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. KCE Structural Engineers, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., was asked to provide emergency assistance to the Military District of Washington, the FBI and the Pentagon Renovation Program. KCE provided emergency stabilization analysis of the Pentagon and immediately began investigating the foundation, evaluating material strengths, and determining which areas needed demolition and which methods should be employed.

Early estimates suggested that rebuilding the damaged portion of the Pentagon could take three to four years. The site was treated as a crime scene, and access was limited. However, an unprecedented degree of cooperation on the part of engineers, contractors and emergency personnel resulted in substantial completion of the work just one year after the attack. By Sept. 11, 2002, most of the reconstructed area was occupied.

LZA Technology/Thorton-Tomasetti Engineers was hired to manage all structural engineering operations at the World Trade Center Disaster Site Recovery. Engineers from more than 35 engineering firms, mobilized by the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY), participated in the complex rescue and recovery efforts that had engineering crews working in rotating shifts on a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week basis. Engineers inspected more than 400 buildings near the disaster site only eight of which were found to have sustained significant damage, all repairable. The first priority was to assess the condition of the buildings directly adjacent to the World Trade Center site to ensure the safety of the emergency crews.

The recovery efforts were ultimately completed four months ahead of the estimated schedule and $1 billion under the estimated budget -- and most importantly, without a single major injury sustained by any of the thousands of workers on site.

The OCEA program was established in 1960 by the American Society of Civil Engineers. OCEA winners, which have included the relocation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the World Trade Center Towers, are selected on the basis of their contribution to the well-being of people and communities, resourcefulness in planning and design challenges, and innovations in materials and techniques.

The OPAL awards honor outstanding projects and professional civil engineers for lifelong contributions in five categories -- public works, construction, management, design and education. The OPAL awards were inaugurated in April 2000. For more information on the OPAL awards gala, please contact Patricia Montgomery at 703-295-6101 or visit

Founded in 1852, ASCE represents 130,000 civil engineers worldwide and is the nation's oldest engineering society. ASCE celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2002.

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