Day 332/365 of Steel – Bruce Graham

Bruce John Graham (December 1, 1925 – March 6, 2010) was a Peruvian-American architect. In 1951 he joined the Chicago office of SOM, the largest architectural firm in the US. Among his most notable buildings are the Inland Steel Building, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), and the John Hancock Center. He was also responsible for planning the Broadgate and Canary Wharf developments in London.

SOM’s Exchange House at Broadgate in London
Fig 1: SOM’s Exchange House at Broadgate in London
Photo: © Richard Waite

Graham had studied structural engineering at Case Western and brought that knowledge and respect of the structure of an edifice to all his buildings. The Hancock building in particular, uses structural design for esthetic expression. Graham later expressed this in Hotel Arts in Barcelona and many other buildings including his buildings in London at Broadgate. Bruce Graham firmly believed that architecture, like dance and music, is a combination of structure and beauty.

Broadgate Exchange House (1990)

Broadgate Exchange House received in 2015 recipient the American Institute of Architects’ 25-Year Award. The ten-story Exchange House was commended for “standing the test of time” with its “simple yet ingenious structural system that unifies design and function in the mid-century Modernist tradition.”

Broadgate - Exchange House
Fig 2: Broadgate – Exchange House
Photo: © Alan Williams / source: SOM

The structural and architectural solutions for this development were entirely intertwined, embracing the constraints of the site and using them to fuel a clear, elegant solution that dramatically overcomes the challenges beneath it. The building is suspended over the rail lines below via four, seven-story tied steel arches that bridge 78-meters) while only five percent of its footprint touches the ground.

Broadgate - Exchange House
Fig 3: Broadgate – Exchange House
Photo: Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

The centrally located lift core, fire stairs, and even the lobby are suspended from this bridge structure. Belgian steelwork contractor Victor Buyck Steel Construction in association with Hollandia Structures produced and erected the steel structure of this wonderful building.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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