In time to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the color-appropriate steel frame goes up on a 132,000-sq-ft medical clinic in Springfield, Ill.
Photos courtesy of Harold O'Shea Builders
Project ironworkers were among those participating when the community gathered at the building site to acknowledge the breast cancer fight.

With the creative use of some colorful materials on a $61-million medical-center building under way in Springfield, Ill., the project's locally based team is driving home a client’s message.

To recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and the resilience needed to combat a leading killer of women, the firms are boosting the Springfield Clinic’s “Pink Steel” campaign by erecting the medical center's 132,000-sq-ft addition in one thousand tons of specially fabricated, pink-coated steel.

“When we realized the steel would be both fabricated and erected in October and that the new facility would house specialists directly involved in breast-cancer detection and treatment, we knew this was a very special opportunity,” says Tom Fitch, vice president of Harold O’Shea Builders, the project contractor that originated the idea. “Visibility leads to awareness, and what’s more visible than a bright-pink steel structure in the middle of Springfield’s medical district?”

Fitch says that while the firm has recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the past using other approaches, “this is the first time we’ve used pink steel."

Steel fabrication and erection began in early October and is set to be completed by mid-January. The project, a four-story medical building to be occupied by 65 physicians, surgeons and other providers, is set for completion in fall 2014.

“When we were asked to develop a strategy for doing this, we actually created four different samples, using a mixture of white primer with red mixed in, to develop a pink tint,” says Mark Selvaggio, the second-generation co-owner of Selvaggio Steel, the building’s steel erector. “We are trying to keep up with the correct amount because we may not have another opportunity to use pink paint after this job is over.”

According to Selvaggio, the firm is considered "one of the more automated steel-fabrication facilities in the area and a pioneer in shop equipment systems. "Our company is relatively small, with less than 30 employees, but our automated computer numeric-control fabricating systems make up for our small footprint,” he says.

He adds that the firm “started investing in technology in 1986 and never looked back.”

Selvaggio says his firm, O’Shea Builders, and the project’s engineer-of-record, Hanson Engineering, have worked together on numerous projects over the past decade, “developing a level of communication through sharing computer 3D models that allowed us to do preliminary budgeting, ordering and, ultimately, clash detection."

The team will participate in a clinic-sponsored event at the construction site on Oct. 25, when members of the public can sign both a pink steel ribbon that will be used as an interior centerpiece in the clinic’s mammography unit and a steel beam that will be erected into the building. 

Springfield Clinic serves about one million patients throughout central Illinois and is one of the state's largest private, multi-specialty medical clinics, it says.