From left: Dana Hennis, P.E., S.E., CFSEI Vice Chair, Garrett Hippert, ClarkDietrich and Kara Peterman, Ph.D., CFSEI Chair



Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering Services PGA Office Center
4299 Kyoto Gardens Drive
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

Completion Date: 2022
Completion Date: $67.9 Million

Owner: Florida Power and Light Company
Architect of Record: Carlos A. Chiu, Perkins & Will
Engineer of Record for Structural Work: Eddy Diaz, Thornton Tomasetti
Cold-Formed Steel Specialty Engineer: Garrett Hippert, ClarkDietrich Engineering Services
Cold-Formed Steel Specialty Contractor: Ed Hall, Lotspeich Co. of Florida
Award Entry Submitted by: Garrett Hippert, ClarkDietrich Engineering Services

Project Background

The PGA Office Center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida is a $67.9 million, 270,000-square-foot structure that serves as the headquarters of the Florida Power and Light Company (FPL). The building was commissioned by FPL as the first phase of its new company headquarters and provides greater capacity for servicing clients.  FPL wanted a structure that could withstand Category 5 hurricanes and 500-year flood events with all the supplies needed for employees to quickly respond to any natural disaster.

Design Challenges and Solutions

Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering Services

Lotspeich Co. of Florida was contracted to complete the installation of cold-formed steel (CFS) framing on the exterior of the building. Although much of the structure is covered with curtain walls, it is accented in many areas with metal panel canopies and fins, all of which are supported with cold-formed framing. These canopies and fins proved to be uniquely challenging for Lotspeich’s team to frame, so ClarkDietrich Engineering Services (CDES) was chosen to help develop framing schemes and designs unique to the structure. CDES accomplished this through shop drawing submittals as well as a BIM model of the exterior canopies and fins.

Due to the project’s complexity, CDES was brought into the design process early to coordinate with the framers and metal panel designer to determine feasibility in certain areas as well as the most efficient and cost-effective methods of framing. This was accomplished by breaking the project up into specific areas based on the framing scheme to be used and coordinating with the design team on a step-by-step basis. This resulted in a set of cold-formed steel shop drawings that evolved from a starting point at the first-floor canopy, then included the rooftop horizontal fins, and finally included the vertical fins. For every step, all pertinent reference plans, section cuts and framing details were included in the submittal package. The actual shop drawings used for this project were provided.

Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering ServicesCDES had many challenges to contend with while completing its cold-formed steel designs. The first challenge was the project’s design criteria. A wind tunnel test was conducted for the building and due to the stringent design requirements of withstanding the worst hurricanes, wind design pressures reached as high as 370 pounds per square feet in some areas. Loads like this required CDES to institute unorthodox methods of framing to provide a strong support base for the metal panels while also standardizing connections and framing schemes to minimize any difficulty or confusion for the installers. Another challenge was the panel attachment itself. Many panels included rounded curves whose support could not be achieved with a cold-formed steel framing layout since all framing had to be sheathed in. To get around this issue, a unique system of blocking was implemented that lined up with panel attachment points. This ensured that panel installers had points to fasten to since they had no way of seeing the studs behind the sheathing. CDES also had to be innovative with the curved panels and created a system of interlocking light gauge angles and clips that followed the perimeter of the curve and provided easily seen attachment points while also maintaining the structural integrity of the system.

Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering ServicesThe first-floor canopy assembly of the PGA Office Center was a point of particular difficulty. The canopy ran along the entire 400-foot-long front face of the building and was constantly changing shape to line up with the curtain wall below. This effectively meant that no two 16 inches on center stud frames would be alike. Without a layout of each of the frames, this would likely have been impossible to install in the field. To assist Lotspeich, the CDES BIM Team created a cold-formed steel 3D model of the building for the areas that contained complex framing layouts. The BIM team then used the model to provide a layout of every 16 inch on center frame that included angles and dimensions to allow the installers to custom make each one and hang them in the field. In addition to this, creating a building model that included all the cold-formed framing allowed the design team to identify a few areas they thought would be problematic due to structural steel interference and find workarounds before installation began.

A combination of hard work and coordination between the engineering and BIM teams at CDES helped make the new FPL headquarters a reality. The innovative design and modeling techniques used proved highly effective in ensuring that construction would be completed without issue. This project will serve as an example of how to design similar projects at CDES in the future. From 2023 onward, the FPL Headquarters will stand as an impressive example of structural engineering while also meeting the needs of the company that calls it home.

 Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering Services

 Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering Services

 Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering Services Photo Courtesy of ClarkDietrich Engineering Services