Seismic Renovation of Robert A. Young Federal Building Wins National DBIA Project Award

Design-build team led by McCarthy Building Companies completed all work while the 20-story historic structure was 100 percent occupied.

An innovative seismic renovation of the Robert A. Young Federal Building—one of downtown St. Louis’ largest office buildings—has earned national recognition from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). 

Honored as an Award of Merit winner in the Rehabilitation, Renovation and/or Restoration category of the 2021 DBIA Project Awards, the project is now eligible for the DBIA National Award of Excellence, to be presented November 2 at the 2021 DBIA Conference & Expo in Denver.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which owns and manages the 20-story, 1-million-sq.-ft. building, undertook the $75 million design-build project to provide additional shelter-in-place opportunities and safer exiting for the office’s 3,000 occupants in the event of an earthquake. Originally constructed in the early 1930s, the Art Deco brick and terracotta building faces potential seismic hazards because of its location within the New Madrid fault zone.

The project involved seismic bracing of non-structural components such as ceilings; partitions; and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems. The design-build team’s innovative solution combined viscous dampers, steel braces and steel sheer walls, enabling all work to be completed while the building was 100 percent occupied by employees from 38 separate government agencies. It represented the first use of seismic dampers in a St. Louis building retrofit and the GSA’s first time using this alternative approach to more traditional seismic renovation methods. This novel approach eliminated the need for 90 percent of the concrete shear walls traditionally required, streamlining the project schedule.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. led the design-build team that also included Gensler (lead designer and architect of record), Etegra (associate architect), Thornton Tomasetti (structural engineer) and Mazzetti (MEP engineer). Other project team members included Geotechnology Inc., Castle Contracting, Integrated Facility Services, Aschinger Electric, Wilson’s Structural Steel, Taylor Devices Inc., Acme Constructors, TJ Wies Contracting, Joseph Ward Painting Co., SFS Architecture and Walter P Moore.

View all 2021 DBIA Project Award winners.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients. With an unrelenting focus on safety and a comprehensive quality program that span all phases of every project, McCarthy utilizes industry-leading design phase and construction techniques combined with value-add technology to maximize outcomes. Repeatedly honored as a Best Place to Work and Healthiest Employer, McCarthy is ranked the 9th largest domestic builder (Engineering News-Record, May 2020). With approximately 5,000 salaried employees and craft professionals, the firm has offices in St. Louis, Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Denver; Dallas, Houston; and San Diego, Newport Beach, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company is available online at or by following the company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

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