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Inspiring Space and
the People Within It

Jayshree Shah started her career designing important buildings. Then her definition of “important” shifted.

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Changing mindsets:
the influence of space

Shah joined the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) as a technical marketing representative. “They hired me to be a different thinker among engineers,” she says. “I got to travel, see projects, research innovations in steel, and try to get architects to think outside the box.

“Being an architect doesn’t mean you just have to sit behind your desk and draw,” she says. “There are a lot of other ways to inspire the field, to influence space.”

AISC brought Shah in to inspire architects who consider steel an innovative choice for many projects but may not think of using it for multistory residential buildings.

Architect Jayshree Shah loves designing for the future—and for people.

“It’s usually something that’s hidden away. And steel can overwhelm architects because they can’t design the connection. They don’t know exactly how it’s supposed to go together; they just want it to work.”

Shah helped architects discover the advantages of using steel in designing buildings. “We encouraged them to really think about all of the factors,” she says. “Not just the upfront material costs, but to see all the benefits and cons in terms of structure. Just thinking about it ahead of time was the most important factor.”

We encouraged them to really think about all of the factors.
Jayshree Shah
Shah emphasizes the importance of exploring the design to make space valuable. "How does the light come in?" she asks. "Are you blocking it? Are you allowing for more light?"

Using steel for function and environmental impact

Another critical factor is the way steel creates more open space. Owners often want column-free spaces for flexibility and large gathering spaces with not as many chopped-up areas. Steel is the optimal solution.

“Steel allows freedom for architects to design the floor plan the way they want and not around columns that disrupt the space,” Shah says. “A column 10 feet into the ballroom space means fewer people can enjoy that beautiful room and its view.

“You need to explore the design to make that space valuable,” she says. “Maybe the cost of steel is higher, but you lose all this square footage by taking up usable, rentable space with structure. There are so many other factors: how the light comes in; are you blocking it? Consider what you achieve with floor height space, how you can make your ceilings different with steel.”

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