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RE: Bracing in a Freezer Building

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This is an extremely large freezer building you are describing.  Most facilities of this size would consist of individual rooms within the footprint of the building operating at different temperatures. As a minimum I would think that you are going to have to provide some overall building expansion joints for a structure of this size which is not going to be practical from an insulation/vapor barrier envelope stand point if your structure is internal to the freezer box. If the structure is external to the freezer box then you shouldn’t have the thermal differentials you described in your email.


For structures which are internal to the freezer box, it has been my experience that considerations for temperature differences between the time of erection and the operating temperature of the refrigerated space are not taken into account. I have never seen any problems in a conventional framed, braced steel structure as a result of your concerns.  I think this is primarily because the column bases are thermally isolated from the foundations via oak blocks (old school) or non-compressible insulation.


There are many specialty details that are required for a freezer structure, particularly when the steel frame is internal to the refrigerated space (as opposed to a PEMB or conventional frame external to the freezer box).  If this is your first freezer facility I suggest that you step back and get familiar with the industry standard details.  I don’t  know of any reference books out there that discuss the subject and although there are a number of design build and A/E firms out there with a significant amount of experience they are probably only going to interested in helping you out if they get a piece of the pie.


If this is your first freezer then I would be more than glad to share with you some of my typical details for everything from how to handle bollards to extensions of the underfloor slab insulation at freezer/dock doors, etc.


D. Matthew Stuart, P.E., S.E., F.ASCE, SECB

Senior Project Manager

Structural Department


Schoor DePalma Engineers and Consultants

200 State Highway Nine

Manalapan, NJ 07726

732-577-9000 (Ext. 1283)

908-309-8657 (Cell)

732-298-9441 (Fax)



-----Original Message-----
From: Rich Lewis [mailto:seaint04(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2007 10:09 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Bracing in a Freezer Building


I’m working on a freezer facility.  The primary framing is steel.  It is approximately 275’ x 325’.  I’m looking at ‘X’ bracing for wind loads.  Seismic is small in comparison.  It is being built in Texas.  The operating temperature is zero F to minus 15 F.  The steel has a potential swing of 75-100 degrees.  Right now I’m looking at 3-4 bays of ‘X’ bracing.  The ‘X’ bracing would be in consecutive bays.  The problem I’m finding is the outer columns have extreme uplift loads from the temperature swing.  The steel at the roof level contracts horizontally and doesn’t at the foundation.  The ‘X’ wants to resist this movement.  This in turn causes large uplift forces on the outer columns of the bracing.  I’ve looked at several different bracing layouts and still end up with the large uplift forces. 


I’m hoping there are others who can give me insight into freezer building bracing systems that can accommodate the large temperature swings.  I’m also looking for resource on the design of freezer facilities from a structural standpoint.  I’ve looked through SEAInt archives and found information on the foundation, slab, etc., but not the steel framing.  I did a search of AISC site and didn’t find anything.  Are there any good articles or books on freezer building design, particularly the structure?


Thanks for your help.