INNOVATION IN STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING
The JDI Group was contracted to engineer the structural elements for a “shade
tree” as part of the Toledo Zoo Elephant Exhibit Renovation Project in Ohio.
Extending more than 40 feet above grade, the structure is fabricated from
structural steel, with the gunite concrete-covered base tapering upward to
simulate a tree trunk and tubular steel “branches” covered with netting to
simulate leaves. Two hoists suspended from the branches control devices that
entertain the elephants.
Because of the angles of the branches, cantilevers, and projections, the
structural elements were subjected to flexure, compression, and torsion. The
geometry was imported to RAM Advanse (now RAM Elements), in which loads
were applied and various loading combinations were created—including loads
induced by wind, snow, hoist, and an angry elephant. The software quickly
analyzed forces and stresses in the members and allowed designers to optimize
The use of Bentley 3D software has had a major influence on the development and
integration of this complex design throughout all its stages.
John Westmuckett, Edge Structures
2009 Be Inspired Award Winner
Innovation in Structural Engineering