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Her Secret is Patience

“Her Secret is Patience”, a unique steel and polyethylene sculpture nestled in Downtown Phoenix, is structured by two steel oval-shaped pipe rings with an average diameter of 100 feet and interconnected by galvanized steel cables.

The appearance of free-floating ring elements some 82 feet above ground supported by three cable-stayed steel pipe columns enthralls the viewer. The guy cables and the columns are adjoined by independent drilled concrete piers for vertical and lateral load stability. In addition to the rigging analysis, M3 provided the structural design for the foundation and steel superstructure of this magnificent Phoenician landmark.

The analysis of the steel structure involved the use of a non-linear analysis to account for the deformation of cables and the structure itself as well as the complex loading including, but not limited to, temperature and wind. Given the complexity of the project, a special set of programs developed in-house along with the use of finite element models, resulted in determination of the optimal size of connections and structural members.


Paper Airplane

M3 provided structural engineering services for the “paper airplane”, an ornamentation structure for a private hangar located at the Armor Airpark Complex in Scottsdale, Arizona. The project, in the form of a paper airplane, consists of aluminum plate “skin” pop riveted to aluminum hat channels connected to steel ribs and supported by a central steel tube “spine.” The “structure is 180 feet long and tapers from a machined aluminum tip to a width of 18 feet at the back end of the plane.

One of the challenges was to allow for different rates of thermal expansion for aluminum and steel.  This was solved by attaching aluminum hat channels to the steel ribs using truss head screws with nylon washers in longitudinally slotted holes so that the aluminum skin could expand and contract with the increase or decrease in temperature.

The structure was modeled in a 3D finite element program to determine areas where additional aluminum rivets were required to resist shear and flexural stresses as well as determination of deformations from wind and gravity loads.


Winning the 2009 Merit Award in Structural Engineering by the Structural Engineers Association of Arizona, WAVE is a stunning gateway for the Palm Beach County Convention Center in Palm Beach, Florida. Five arches consisting of aluminum box trusses enclosed by aluminum perforated plate are wired with kinetic LED lights that illuminate in intervals to create the feel of an ocean wave radiating over the exterior ballroom patio. The arches sequentially grow in height from 17 ft. to 30 ft. above the patio floor.

M3 provided structural design services for this artwork that is governed by severe regional conditions. The corrosion resisting behavior of aluminum performs well in sea air; however, the strength and stiffness of aluminum is considerably lower than structural steel but can still withstand hurricane winds. The box truss formation provides the needed strength for aluminum and the arches bolt into structural steel frames inside the existing building wall, protected from the environmental elements.



The Structural Engineers Association of Arizona honored the project, DROP, with the 2011 Merit Award in Structural Engineering. M3 developed the structural design for this iconic marker of the Prewett Family Park entrance located in Antioch, California.

The artwork is comprised of an inner steel skeleton supporting an outer aluminum frame reaching 34 feet high, 14 feet wide and 8 feet deep at its largest point. Its peripheries are angled to join at an 8-inch wide point at the top. The aluminum frame is concealed by perforated aluminum plate and is wired with kinetic LED lights powered by a solar energy system. The structure is suspended from a central steel pipe column allowing for continuous curves in the outer frame which never touch the ground.

The artist, engineer and fabricator encountered various challenges including: poor soils, wind and severe seismic loads, welded aluminum properties, connection detailing and limited tolerances for transport and erection. Due to the soil conditions and large lateral loads, a drilled concrete pier foundation was required.

The Green Wall

Palm Beach County was looking for a focal point between the Historic 1916 Courthouse and the County Governmental Building by creating a useful public space. An artist from Tucson Arizona was selected to design the outdoor space along with M3 for the structural engineering services for the centennial bell tower and shade canopy.

Due to its unique nature, the shade canopy design encountered many challenges. With the site location about one mile inland from the Atlantic Coast and hurricane wind loads, aluminum alloy was the choice material due to its non-corrosive characteristics. A 3D finite element model was developed to assess the deformations and stress distributions in the aluminum members. The artist’s vision incorporated small, elegant members to reflect palm fronds. Between large spans, high wind loading, and welded aluminum properties, creating the artist’s intent was a challenge. The members in areas of high stress required thicker walls in order to keep consistent outside tube dimensions throughout the project.

The shade canopy construction ran smoothly and the completed artwork will serve the community well.

Signs and Symbols

Signs and Symbols is located in Gateway Plaza outside the Humanities Building on the Olympic College campus, Bremerton, Washington. Customized glass blocks incorporating the signs and symbols commonly used within the humanities disciplines were the inspiration for the sculpture.

M3 provided the structural design for the gateway sculpture. The structure consists of two 12 foot high triangular columns filled with glass block that support a “tilde” symbol fabricated of an aluminum angle frame covered in perforated aluminum plate. The triangular columns have custom built aluminum corners which create the frame for the glass block. Thin aluminum straps are used as reinforcement within the glass block mortar beds to tie the three custom corner columns together. The columns are illuminated at night, highlighting the designs of the glass block.

Due to high seismic loads, a large concrete grade beam foundation is required to support the artwork. Many challenges were encountered throughout the analysis process including severe seismic loads, welded aluminum properties, and thermal expansion differences between the glass block mortar and aluminum frame.