SpeedCore: Through A Fabricators Eyes

June 26, 2020

With every new innovation comes challenges, and SpeedCore is no different. This new way of high-rise building was first realized with Rainier Square Tower; a 58-storey, mixed use tower in the heart of Seattle, Washington. Up until this point the concrete-filled composite steel plate shear wall (CF-CPSW) core system (SpeedCore) was merely a concept. 

With the world’s attention Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA), Lease Crutcher Lease, and Supreme Steel proved the new system to be feasible. Compared to a traditional reinforced concrete core building, the system is quicker and more cost effective.  

With the proof of concept complete fabricator, Supreme Steel has determined the fabrication challenges associated with this high-rise building innovation.  

SpeedCore Fabrication Challenges 

  • Early Involvement 

SpeedCore requires a greater emphasis on the design and fabrication sequence. The fabricators on staff engineering, detailing, drafting and shop teams need more lead time to preplan for complex SpeedCore.  

  • Erection Methods 

Methods of erection and aids need to be incorporated into panels for safe and efficient installation. The center of gravity can change substantially based on mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) opening design change. The internal panel bracing must be moved to ensure stability in transportation and erection. 

  • Facility Storage Capacity 

Traditionally, high-rise construction might be halfway done before the steel erector even show up on the job site. With SpeedCore everything is much faster. When the erector needs the fabricated panels they need to be waiting and ready. Panel stock requirements require a large storage facility. A facility may require storage for upwards of 50 panels at a time. 

  • Welder Burn Out 

With Rainier Square, welders were required to weld over hundreds of thousands cross-ties. The job requires labor intensive man-hours with a highly repetitive motion making welder burnout extremely common.  

  • Shop Handling  

The sheer size of the CPSW panels make shop movement exceedingly challenging. Once the panels are in the yard their size prohibits access or relocating them into the shop if changes are needed. General shop flow congestion occurs effecting production throughput in other parts of the project. All materials must be labeled and stored in a sequential manner to ensure the panels are shipped to site in the correct order.  

  • Custom Panels 

Despite common perception many SpeedCore panels are unique to suite MEP openings, door openings and other project design considerations. The system requires a steep drafting learning curve, panels may call to be drawn on upwards of 16 pages and contain over 525 parts.  

Previous fabrication challenges have made it evident that new SpeedCore fabricators will be faced with an uphill battle to meet current standards. However, each new project opens possibilities for the future of SpeedCore. As an industry it’s time to make way for the next evolution of high-rise construction.  

So what’s next for Supreme Steel in the SpeedCore world? As the leading fabricator in SpeedCore design, Supreme, will be providing for CPSW panels across North America. Through trails and tribulation Supreme now has the knowledge and expertise to lead the industry going forward with the pioneering building system of SpeedCore.  

Project Specs: 

  • Height: 850 feet 
  • Tons of Steel: 16,126  
  • Core Panels: 524 
  • Man-Hours: 500,000 
  • Curtain Wall: 380,000 sqft