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Cold-Formed Steel Provides Solution for Apartment Complex

Collegetown Terrace, by Cornell University, demonstrates that even with a complex shape, many design options are available with cold-formed steel framing.


Collegetown Terrace is a student apartment rental complex near Cornell University. Building 7 is the third stage in a multi-building complex situated on a 12-acre site with a combined estimated cost of $70 million. Building 7 is the largest structure on the site and the largest residential building in Tompkins County, with a sweeping radius that moves in and out and stretches out more than 600 feet.

The project demonstrates that even with a complex shape, there are many design options available to create unique profiles with straight light gauge steel framing members. Working with the contractor and design professionals, innovative solutions can be found for challenging designs.

The apartments include dorm-style rooms, studios, and two- and three-bedroom apartments, with a total of 247 units and 344 bedrooms. Collegetown Terrace offers a covered parking garage, fitness center, and a free shuttle bus to the university. The construction type is a lower precast plank parking garage with a four- or five-level light gauge load-bearing structure above for the apartments. The interior partition walls are load-bearing studs that support the light gauge floor and roof joists.

The joists support a metal deck and gypcrete floor system. The elevator and stair shafts are constructed with masonry. Cold-formed X-braces at the apartment level provide lateral stability for the building. The exterior of the lower parking garage is constructed with cold-formed steel. The exterior of the building makes a unique statement. Its fiber cement siding, glass, stone, cement board stucco and stamped and formed metal shingles accentuated by bright colors make the building’s large sweeping curves hard to miss.

This project received first place in the Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute Design Excellence and Innovative Detail Award ceremony.

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