Cleveland, OH,
15:22 PM

The story of the steel for our new hospital

A building’s structural steel, its columns and beams, is its skeleton. And our new hospital is going to have 4,441 tons of steel bones, the same weight as about 3,000 Honda Civics.

Here’s the story of our steel, courtesy of Zach Shue, a project manager with Sippel Steel Fab, one of our construction partners.

Our steel will be born later this spring at the Nucor Steel plant in Blytheville, Ark., which sits on the Mississippi River.

Casting and rolling

In 150-ton batches, the plant’s electric arc furnace will melt the steel – roughly 75 percent of it coming from recycled/scrap metal – at over 2,500 degrees.

Once the molten steel is at the right temperature and chemical composition, it will be poured and cast into “blooms,” which are long rectangular metal forms. While still very hot, the blooms will then be rolled into long wide-flange beams, also called I-beams. These beams will then be “hot cut” into manageable lengths, between 30 and 60 feet.

These raw beams, or “sticks,” will then be loaded onto river barges.

By barge, it will take 12-16 weeks for our steel to go up the Mississippi River, take a right turn onto the Ohio River in Cairo, Ill., and then travel on to Sippel Steel’s facility near Pittsburgh.

By rail, the journey would take about three weeks. Trucks could have it delivered in a week.

The good news is we have just enough time to do it before the first steel beams and columns will be needed on site around August.

Fabricating and finishing

A crane will unload the steel “sticks” from the barges at Sippel Steel’s facility in Ambridge, Pa. (about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh).

Crews will then fabricate and finish each beam and column, getting it to the correct dimensions, adding the right connections/baseplates and ensuring all details are covered.

Using a 3D computerized model of the steel structure of the new hospital, Sippel’s workers will customize every piece, giving each beam or column a unique serial number indicating its exact location on the building. That way, each piece can go in only one spot: the correct spot.

Delivery and construction

Because we’ll have a detailed and organized construction schedule, and because Sippel Steel’s facility is just two hours away, our steel will be delivered to the construction site when – and only when – it’s needed. This will work much like an efficient factory’s “just in time” delivery system for parts and materials. It means we won’t need extra space to store beams and columns.

Once on our campus, the steel pieces will be erected by two teams, the raising gang and the detail gang.

The raising gang will use cranes and rigging chains to lift the beams and columns into place. They’ll then bolt them together.

The detail gang will follow, carefully plumbing and adjusting the pieces so they are perfectly positioned. They’ll then tighten all the bolts and complete any welding that’s needed.

Because of careful planning and the ability to fabricate and finish the steel pieces offsite, the steel skeleton of our new hospital will go up quickly. The entire process, from the first column to the final beam, is expected to take fewer than nine months.

About the MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit