The Next Generation Prefabricated Structures for Skyscrapers

Stuart Bull
Digital Engineering Hub Leader
Laing O'Rourke, Sydney

As our cities evolve, the need for taller, safer and more sustainable buildings will continue to grow for a foreseeable future. In recent years, we have seen many new structural components appearing on the market that can truly improve the overall performance of buildings. When combined, these new components will completely change the way skyscraper are built.

Minimizing the floor-to-floor height in high-rise buildings has always been an objective for the design community. Every inch saved on each floor of a skyscraper has a huge impact on the overall cost of a building. For the last decades, the only system capable of really maximizing the floor-to-floor height in high-rise construction was post-tensioned concrete structures. In recent years, several new floor assemblies combining shallow composite beams and long span slab elements have emerged to offer prefabricated slim floor systems for the first time.

The last couple of years have led to innovative ways of using products that have traditionally been performing very poorly in case of fire. Due to the recent changes in the ASTM E-119 standard, it is now possible to obtain exposed structural steel members that have a fire resistance of up to 4 hours. As for wood, the new 2018 National Design Specification® now allows for mass timber slabs to be left exposed without any additional fire protection for up to 2 hours. These recent changes now make it possible to leave steel and wood structures completely exposed while providing a safe environment for a building’s occupants.

This presentation will showcase how different combinations of composite structures have already been used around the world and explain how all these systems could be used in the future to make taller, safer and more sustainable buildings.