Written by:

Jacinda Collins, P.E., and Jennifer Anna Pazdon, MSE, P.E.


Publication Source:


Architecturally Expressive Structural Steel and Stainless SteelFallback Image

When properly executed, the decision to expose structural steel offers a powerful opportunity to express a project’s tectonics and aesthetic goals. The 2016 American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Code of Standard Practice for Steel Bridges and Buildings (ANSI/AISC 303) introduced the architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) category system, a systematic method of communicating craftsmanship quality to support goals for the final appearance of the finished structure. Prior to 2016, the lack of a categorized approach uniformly accepted by the Architecture-Engineering-Construction industry posed challenges in communication between the design and construction team, as well as with Owners.

Today, when properly understood and leveraged, the Category system can support project outcomes that meet designers’ intent, are properly budgeted during the bid process, and achieve ultimate aesthetic goals for which fabrication quality is a foundation.

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