The Queens Wharf Skydeck




Brisbane, Australia | Robert Bird Group

The Queens Wharf Skydeck is set to become a major tourist destination in Brisbane, Australia. It will be an open-air observation deck 100 meters above the Brisbane River, offering stunning views of the city skyline, South Bank Parklands, and the river itself.

The Skydeck is a complex structure consisting of four towers connected by three steel truss bridges. The design team used specialized software to model the structure accurately and safely.

About the Queens Wharf Skydeck

The Queens Wharf Skydeck, a three-part steel structure perched above Brisbane, cleverly connects its towers. Each span, measuring 25m, 30m, and 35m, bridges between specific towers (IT1, IT2, IT3, and IT4). Two of these spans even have special joints that allow the towers to move independently without affecting the Skydeck.

Building the Skydeck was no easy feat. The first span, connecting from a fixed deck on tower IT1, presented a unique challenge. It juts out 12 meters from the tower, requiring a special joint to handle the movement. To assemble the entire structure, each span was built and clad on the ground floor before being slid into place on rails and then lifted into position using jacks.

Because of the project’s complexity, Dallas Lee and his team faced challenges with the intersection points of the truss nodes. They hadn’t come across any existing software solutions that could handle these connections without having to manually model them in their FEA program, which was too time-consuming.

“Before acquiring IDEA StatiCa, we struggled with the design and detailing of intricate or unique steel connections. This often led us to adopt either a more cautious approach or invest significant time in creating custom finite element analysis models.”

Dallas Lee
Principal Engineer – Robert Bird Group

Engineering challenges

The project involves four towers, and a sky bridge connects towers IT2 and IT3. The primary purpose of incorporating IDEA StatiCa was to address the intricate truss nodes within the Skydeck, specifically between towers IT1 and IT2, as well as IT3 and IT4.

The complexity of these nodes made traditional FEA software impractical for modeling, as it would have been time-consuming. The team discovered that IDEA StatiCa was well-suited for efficiently modeling and analyzing these connections.

The project presents a distinctive feature wherein towers IT 1 and 2 exhibit distinct seismic responses, causing them to move independently. If the decks between these towers were rigidly fixed, it would lead to the generation of significant internal forces.

To address this challenge, an articulation movement joint was implemented, allowing the decks to pivot at a specific point. Achieving this pivot involved utilizing a bearing placed on a steel corbel inside. Consequently, intricate custom steel fabricated connections had to be designed to accomplish this requirement.

“In the past, we used to create highly intricate FEA models, a process that was notably time-consuming. However, IDEA StatiCa significantly expedites this entire procedure for us.”

Dallas Lee
Principal Engineer – Robert Bird Group

Throughout the project, special consideration was given to the profile of the deck, which previously resembled a boat hull. The introduction of a crank in both the top surface and the soffit necessitated highly complex steel connections, particularly where the secondary beam intersects the primary truss line.

Additionally, Dallas and his team had to devise innovative solutions for other creative connections due to the strict architectural requirements of the project. IDEA StatiCa enabled them to overcome these challenges and instilled confidence in their capacity to accurately deliver all connection designs, regardless of complexity.

Solutions and results

The project provided Dallas and his team with a significant boost in confidence regarding their designs, largely attributed to the thorough testing facilitated by IDEA StatiCa, rather than relying solely on traditional FEA models.

Moreover, they established a streamlined workflow allowing them to extract member geometry and forces from their finite element analysis model using a Python script. Since Strand7 lacked a BIM link, they converted the data into the SAF file format, enabling seamless importation into IDEA StatiCa via Checkbot. This integration proved invaluable, ensuring data transfer without loss through IDEA StatiCa’s well-documented API.

Previously, Dallas and his team faced two options: either adopting a more conservative design approach, relying on manual assessments and adapting documented models for custom connections, or investing significant time in creating custom finite element analysis models for highly complex details.

However, by implementing their new workflow, which involved importing member geometries and various load cases and combinations, they were able to save considerable time. This not only boosted their confidence in their designs but also encouraged them to push their boundaries further.

“Our automation process was notably efficient, thanks to the IDEA StatiCa BIM Links and the SAF format import feature. The significant time savings in developing complex connections were particularly noteworthy for me, especially in conveying these benefits to the fabricator.”

Dallas Lee
Principal Engineer – Robert Bird Group

About Robert Bird Group

Robert Bird Group, part of the Surbana Jurong Group, is a renowned consulting engineering firm with a global presence, boasting over 700 staff spread across eleven offices. Their dedication to realizing clients’ visions through unwavering commitment to engineering excellence is evident in every project they undertake. Leveraging their international proficiency, they offer comprehensive services spanning five disciplines: structural engineering, civil engineering, construction engineering, geotechnical engineering (UK and Middle East), and virtual design and construction.

In recognition of their outstanding achievements, the firm clinched the Public Vote category in the IDEA StatiCa Excellence Awards 2023.