National Center for Civil and Human Rights wins ACEC Georgia Grand Award

15 February 2016


The National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) recently received three honors. The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Georgia awarded the NCCHR as the top project in its category — Structural Systems — and also the Grand Award for the top project overall in Georgia. At the ACEC National level, the NCCHR also received a Recognition Award.

The projects were selected based upon several criteria:

  • project uniqueness and innovative applications
  • future value to the engineering profession
  • perception by the public
  • social, economic and sustainability considerations
  • complexity
  • successful fulfillment of client/owner needs, including schedule and budget.

Deemed “one of the most socially significant institutions of its generation,” the iconic National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened in 2014 on a prominent downtown Atlanta site and tells the story of American civil rights, powerfully connecting its lessons to human rights issues around the world. 

Enormous curved exterior walls are clad in multi-hued façade tiles that suggest different races coming together. The walls also create a grand architectural gesture as interlocking arms that symbolize unity and harmony while protecting three levels of unique historical content in interactive exhibits, galleries, and event spaces. Exposed concrete ceilings, brushed-concrete columns, and angled walls accentuate the gravity of the stories told within the new 43,000-sf building.

Lead structural engineer Walter P Moore demonstrated engineering excellence in numerous ways to help bring this important building to reality. Structural creativity began with the foundations on this challenging and sensitive urban site. The engineers designed a soil nail wall along the south end of the site that could be built economically and with minimum disturbance to the sensitive site or its adjacent neighbors.

To create the irregular curving façade, Walter P Moore utilized a combination of structural steel members and carefully detailed metal studs, which were fabricated in straight sections, but cleverly arranged to form the sinuous, doubly curving façade surfaces. In addition to state-of-the-industry structural analysis, the engineer provided special detailing at each beam-column joint in the sloping structure to ensure adequate strength without excessive rebar congestion.

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