Project Quick Facts

Building Client

Southeast Community College

Structural Engineer


General Contractor

Hausmann Construction

Software Used

RISAFloor, RISA-3D, RISAFoundation, RISAConnection

Structural Components

Composite Steel, Steel Braced Frames, Shear Walls

Year Completed


Project Background

Born out of the desire to create a focal point which would draw students to their Beatrice, Nebraska campus, the Southeast Community College embarked on an ambitious master plan which included the new Academic Excellence Center. The three-story, 52,000 sq. ft. building aims to promote interconnected learning while providing students and faculty with modern general purpose classrooms as well as state-of-the-art health science labs. The project also serves as the cornerstone for the new academic quad that is being established on campus, while also setting the standard for energy performance for future buildings.

"RISA has always been a great marriage between ability and simplicity, while also being robust enough to be a one-stop shop for all our structural designs"

— Cary Schroeder, SE

About the Structure

While the three-story steel structure consists of typical composite steel floor framing as well as steel braced frames and conventional shallow foundations, the structural engineer on the project, Olsson, encountered a variety of challenges due to the architectural requirements of the project. To start, the majority of the structure was left exposed in order to achieve the aesthetic intent of celebrating the building structure rather than concealing it. At each level non-continuous, de-coupled diaphragms (as a result of atrium spaces that spanned multiple floors) created pseudo catwalks and the need for large transfer girders. Additionally, the structure included a 15ft cantilever at each level along with discontinuity in lateral load path which made designing the braced frames more challenging. Finally, the structure includes a “scrim wall” on the long side of the building which included specific aesthetic requirements including the specific use of only dimensionally “square” wide flange shapes.

How Were RISA Products Utilized?

With all the challenges of the project, engineers at Olsson relied heavily on the full RISA Suite to achieve a structural design that fit the strict aesthetic and architectural demands. RISAFloor & RISA-3D were utilized to model the main three-story structure and design the composite floors and main lateral systems. Integration with RISAFoundation and RISAConnection were also utilized to design the buildings shallow concrete foundations and steel connections respectively. Finally, the steel fins that make up the “scrim wall” were modeled separately in RISA-3D so that they could be independently analyzed for the anticipated wind load on the exterior of the structure.

Images 1 & 2: Olsson | Image 4: William Hess Photography