CLIENT | Equal Justice Initiative
LOCATION | Montgomery, Alabama
ARCHITECT | MASS Design Group
STAFF LEAD | Matthew Melnyk, SE
COMPLETED | 2018
Although the primary structure is exposed, the design intent was to have the structure disappear from the observer’s perspective. Cantilevers in excess of 35 feet were limited in depth and supported on a series of limited perimeter columns which were optimized to achieve a minimal structural appearance. A careful balance was struck between load bearing columns and suspended modules to maintain the same size profile for all vertical elements and further blur the structural system.
Fiberglass, GFRC and corten steel were all evaluated for use as the suspended module before selecting the steel shells to reduce loading demands on columns and cantilevers. Strict performance criteria had to be applied to the roof steel design to limit deflections and ensure a visibly clean horizontal plane. A combination of member sizing, camber, framing configuration and adjustment capabilities built into the attachments of the modules allowed for a precise control of the roof level.
As historical research continued even during the project development, more counties were added to the memorial during the design phase. Nous Engineering generated a parametric control to allow for the Equal Justice Initiative and Mass Design group to reorganize the 800 modules listing county names in an order that satisfied the memorial experience. The location of the modules ultimately drove the steel framing alignments.