Kottler Metal Products Project Recognized as IDEAS2 Award Winner by the American Institute of Steel Construction

Kottler Metals Products is honored to receive a national award of excellence for its contribution of structural bends to the Robert B. Aikens Commons at the University of Michigan Law School, winner of the 2012 IDEAS2 Awards Program.  The IDEAS2 Award winner is determined by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) for a project that is recognized as using structural steel in an innovative manner.  The AISC is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association for the use of structural steel in the construction industry.  The AISC supplies specifications, codes, technical assistance, quality certification, and standardization.  Kottler Metal Products is an active member of the AISC’s Bender-Roller Committee.



IDEAS² Awards

Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel 

Sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction, this program recognizes those projects where structural steel has been utilized in an innovative manner. The innovative use of structural steel may be in:

  • the accomplishment of the building's program
  • the expression of architectural intent
  • the application of innovative design approaches to the structural system
  • the utilization of productivity enhancing construction methods

Project Basis
The design and construction industry is growing in recognition of the value of coordination, collaboration and teamwork in the successful accomplishment of a project's program. In active support of this trend, AISC has brought together previously separate architectural and structural engineering award programs that focused on a single aspect of the building project into a single program designed to recognize excellence and innovation in the use of structural steel on a comprehensive, project basis. Awards will be made to the project recognizing and awarding all members of the project's team involved with the structural framing system: architectural firm, structural engineering firm of record, general contractor, detailer, fabricator, erector as well as the project owner. Specialty consultants and contractors will be recognized at the discretion of the architect and structural engineer of record. Any member of the project team may submit a project for consideration. Joint submittals from project teams are encouraged.

 Robert B. Aikens Commons at The University of Michigan Law School


Grand Opening of Robert B. Aikens Commons and Kirkland & Ellis Café Draws Hundreds

By John Masson, Michigan Daily

The opening of the magnificent glass-roofed Robert B. Aikens Commons left little doubt about where the social heart of the LawSchool now lies.

Several hundred students, faculty, and staff formed up outside four new sets of double doors leading into the space from Hutchins Hall. When the doors finally swung open (after the last construction worker had finished polishing the last piece of trim), a flood of humanity broke over the Commons' comfortable furnishings like a wave and settled in as if the place had always been there.

Built on the site of a disused courtyard between Hutchins Hall, the stacks, and the Reading Room, the gathering space now links all three. Featuring a curved glass roof supported by tree-like steel beams, the Commons—with its student gathering spots, spaces for student organizations, meeting rooms, and the beautiful new Kirkland & Ellis Café—also will serve as the main entry point for Hutchins Hall.

This week's opening is the first step to solving a serious space crunch at the LawSchool. When the new South Hall academic building opens later this fall, the school will also have added classroom and office space for a student body that's more than doubled and a faculty that's more than quadrupled since the last new instructional spaces opened in Hutchins Hall in 1933.

But there were pitfalls to dodge in the design and building process.

The first was to avoid detracting from the beauty already present. The second was to resist the temptation to try to slavishly duplicate the existing buildings. Instead, in the words of the project's architects, the goal became designing structures that clearly belonged in the same family as the existing buildings. That way the work would celebrate the LawSchool's storied past while keeping an eye firmly fixed on the future.

Visitors to Aikens Commons will find that architects somehow managed to bring the warm granite of the outside walls indoors. Both levels of the space are bathed in natural light, with the top level divided between a café space and an open gathering spot. The steel towers holding up the roof add to the impression of being outdoors—they're shaped like the soaring elms of the Law Quad.

Downstairs, a special events and media room with retractable walls is at the center of the space. The perimeter features ample seating and places for members of the law school community to chat and mingle. Building materials are a mix of the old and the new, with granite, limestone, and glass mingling with softer surfaces like leather and fabric paneling.

"I defy anyone to say which part of this building was built in 2010, and which was built in 1931," Dean Evan Caminker joked during a brief welcoming talk.

Taken in combination with South Hall, the structures promise to transform the way one of America's great schools trains future generations of the leaders and best in one discipline that governs every important aspect of our lives: the law.


Robert B. Aikens Commons at The University of Michigan Law School