Tag: licensed structural engineer

Structural engineering

The Problems the Millennium Tower is Facing in San Francisco

When the $550 million construction for the Millennium Tower in San Francisco was announced, there were no shortage of buyers ready to spend millions of dollars to purchase living space. However, less than a decade later, those buyers have lost significant value in their investment due to various unforeseen issues to the tower.

Various structural engineering companies, as well as geotechnical companies, are evaluating the building daily to analyze the cracks, sinking and leaning that are clearly present. While the problems with the Millennium Tower are evident, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the safety of it, who is responsible for these issues and what structural engineering experts are going to do about it.

How Safe Is The Building Today?

The good news is the last time a structural engineer evaluated the building, it was deemed to be safe to live in, even if an earthquake occurred. However, the fact that the sinking of the building doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon can’t be ignored. Structural engineering experts estimate the building will continue sinking between 1.5” to 2” every year, which simply means action needs to be taken now to prevent a potential disaster in the ensuing years.

Where The Blame Lies

Initial inspections indicate the main problem being in the foundation of the Millennium Tower. The soil it’s built on consists of sand, clay and mud, and the foundation does not even extend far enough down to reach solid bedrock. There’s some controversy surrounding the City of San Francisco and why they allowed the construction and design team to not anchor the foundation low enough to reach the bedrock.

Another area of blame has to do with the construction of the transit center that was newly built adjacent to the tower. The construction company responsible for building the Millennium Tower is suggesting the company that constructed the transit center pumped too much groundwater during their project, which caused the sand under the Millennium Tower to compress, and has resulted in the sinking.

Possible Solutions To Fix The Millennium Tower

As structural engineering experts continue to discover the reasons why the Millennium Tower is experiencing these problems, they are also developing short-term and long-term solutions. One of the possible solutions includes removing some of the top floors in order to reduce the weight of the tower. The most discussed solution for the long-term is to bore micro piles on the side of the building that’s sinking in order to eventually anchor it to the bedrock underneath. Once this occurs, the high side of the building must sink to the level of the low side before the anchoring can occur. This proposed solution could take up to five years and cost several hundred million dollars, but it is the most viable solution for the long-term, as analyzed by structural engineering experts.

At BE Structural, we always monitor these types of stories and are actually involved in many of them. We are a structural engineering company with experts coming from many different backgrounds and having various levels of experience. If you have any specific questions about the problems the Millennium Tower in San Francisco is facing, or have a need for a structural engineer, contact us today.

Structural engineer

How Can Structural Engineers Build in a More Sustainable Way?

Waste is a common problem among many different industries worldwide, and the construction industry is one of the leaders in producing waste. However, with society becoming more aware and conscious of the materials they are using and how to properly dispose of them, structural engineering companies are also doing the same. This involves altering practices and procedures, disposing of waste differently, eliminating harmful compounds when using building materials and more. All of these combine to make more sustainable buildings and protect our planet as well. Here’s how structural engineering companies are building more sustainably today.

Incorporate Zero Waste Practices

Zero waste practices mean using products and materials that can be reused instead of discarded when they are no longer needed. A common example of this is when a structural engineer designs a building by using bolts for connections rather than welds. The bolts can be reused when the building gets remodeled or demolished, but anything welded will simply have to go to the landfill in most cases.

Eliminate Volatile Organic Compounds

Breathing in volatile organic compounds can be dangerous when ingested in large amounts. Building materials have traditionally contained these volatile organic compounds, but structural engineering companies are now being more conscious about the products and materials they use to ensure they don’t include them. Not only are these materials better for the environment, they also protect the construction workers who come in close contact with them.

Compost Waste Instead of Dumping in The Landfill

It’s easy for a structural engineer to say they’ll throw any waste in the landfill. However, many structural engineering companies today are composting some of their organic waste on the actual construction site when possible. This reduces the amount of waste in the landfills and also eliminates having to pollute the air with trucks driving to and from the landfills.

A Conscious Effort Will Go A Long Way

Being conscious of reducing waste and building in a more sustainable way will pay dividends for our environment in the future. The job of a structural engineer is to ensure a new project or a renovation project is designed in a safe manner, and also in a sustainable manner. Of course, it’s not always possible to apply all of these practices in every single construction product, but simply having sustainability in the back of the mind is a positive step forward for the environment.

BE Structural uses sustainable practices whenever possible. As a structural engineering company, it’s our job to ensure every building is designed and constructed safely. However, we are also very conscious of the environment we live in and the safety of the air we breathe. Quality does not have to be sacrificed when incorporating sustainable practices, so contact us today to see how we include these practices every day.

Structural engineering

3 Types of Failures in a Steel Structure

Steel structures are unique in both an appearance and construction aspect. Steel is an extremely strong material with many different levels of strengths and members that all have to be connected correctly in order to make a building structurally sound. Not all steel members are created equally with the same strength, so structural engineering professionals must test the strength of each member against the force put against it during construction. Not doing so can lead to structural failure, which can cause devastating consequences. Here are three of the most common types of failures in steel structures that every structural engineering company sees.

Beam Failure

Beam failure in steel structures doesn’t occur very often, but it is a legitimate concern every structural engineer has to be conscious of. This type of failure happens when a beam doesn’t flex properly or experiences something called lateral torsional buckling. Since pressure is typically not applied directly to the center of the beam during construction, twisting can occur. Failure typically happens when the beam is not braced with anything to support the twisting motion.

Tension Failure

Every structural engineer knows the risks and consequences of trying to stretch any given material too much. When designing any given member in tension, structural engineering professionals must be cautious of a possible net section rupture or block shear failure. These are two common failures directly related to tension, but typically do not occur when an experienced structural engineer works on the project.

Connection Failure

Connection failure is by far the most common type of failure in a steel structure. The connection is typically the first component to fail if the force of the load is more than anticipated. When a structural engineer designs the construction of a building, they use precise calculations to determine the strength of bolts or other connections needed. However, one minor miscalculation or a misstep in the construction process can lead to unpredicted force and failure at that particular connection. The challenge for every structural engineer is to take human error into consideration during the construction phase and design the connections to withstand a little more force than calculated.

BE Structural is here to help with your commercial or residential construction project, structural inspection, complete building renovation and anything else related to your building. We are proud to have a diverse group of structural engineering professionals so we can handle any project, no matter how large or small it is. To learn more about how our team can help you or your company, contact us today.

Structural engineering company

The Effects of Wind and Hail on a Flat Roof

Wind and hail can cause significant damage to buildings, and especially those buildings with a flat roof. The majority of commercial buildings have flat roof systems and can all be constructed differently. The most common construction materials include multi-ply asphalt systems, single-ply membranes or metal panels. The role of a structural engineer when constructing a commercial building is to determine the best material to use to withstand the weather conditions most commonly seen in the area. Some of the most damaging weather comes from wind and hail, and here’s how those conditions impact a flat roof.

Vulnerable Areas of A Flat Roof

With a flat roofing system, the most vulnerable areas prone to wind damage are on the corners and around the edges of the roof. This is due to the uplift pressure of the wind, which can actually be much faster than the horizontal wind speed itself. The problem with these vulnerable areas is when the perimeter of the roof gets damaged, it can start peeling back and lift up. In worst case scenarios, the wind pressure can get under the roof and essentially blow it off of the building. However, these scenarios are very rare, since structural engineering professionals have strict codes and guidelines to follow to ensure it doesn’t happen.

Is Hail Damage Only Cosmetic?

The type of roof covering used on a flat roof makes a difference in whether hail damage is only cosmetic or can create larger issues. Hail as little as ½” in diameter can create dents in a metal roof. While most of this damage is cosmetic, the finish on the roof could be compromised, cause rust and shorten the lifespan of the roof. Single-ply roofs are more vulnerable to experiencing damage that’s more than cosmetic. It will still take hail of 1” in diameter or more to cause serious damage, but every structural engineer suggests inspecting the roof frequently and thoroughly to determine any vulnerabilities.

Frequent Roof Inspections Can Prevent Significant Damage

Any structural engineering company will highly recommend conducting roof inspections often. The age of the roof plays a big role in how vulnerable it is to wind or hail damage. Too many commercial properties make the mistake of not replacing their roof soon enough, since severe wind and hail events don’t happen every day. But with the unpredictability of the weather, it’s best to be prepared and have a structural engineering professional out to make a recommendation on how to protect the roof from damage.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals with many different levels of experience. We are experts in commercial construction, residential construction and even various non-traditional projects. We are always available to serve you whether you have a new construction project or just need a thorough inspection of your property. For the best expert advice from a qualified structural engineer, contact us today.

Structural glass facade

Glass Facade and Its Advantages

Everywhere you look today you’ll see some sort of structural glass facade. Major improvements have been made in the facade engineering landscape to make glass one of the primary means of construction for new buildings. Not only does glass have a great visual appeal, but it now serves more functional purposes than ever before. Here are some of the main advantages a glass facade provides.

Energy Efficiency

Allowing sunlight to enter into a building can save electricity since you can use natural light instead of artificial lighting. Contrary to what may be the public perception, technological advances in glass has actually helped it regulate heating and cooling in buildings. With the strict energy requirements placed on commercial buildings today, glass will only become more valuable to meet the restrictions and also provide cost-saving benefits.

Strong Enough to Withstand Harsh Weather Elements

A structural glass facade is generally strong enough to withstand some of the harshest weather elements. Whether you live in an area with constant sun, wind or rain, the glass will retain its integrity and appearance much longer than many traditional building materials. And since glass does not rust or weather, environmental effects will not have an impact on your building facade.

Flexibility With Transparency or Translucency

Glass can be molded into virtually any shape and made either transparent or translucent. Most architecture today uses transparent glass for a building facade, but the flexibility of the material allows architects to be creative with how it is used. Transparency and translucency provide both functional and aesthetic benefits, so facade engineering experts can use it in many different applications.

Aesthetic Benefits

In addition to all of the functional benefits of a glass facade, one of the biggest advantages is how it looks. A homeowner or business owner can make a statement with their property by using glass creatively to build a magnificent structure. Glass has the unique ability to make a building look sophisticated and achieve virtually any architectural design you desire. Nothing is out of the question when it comes to incorporating glass into architecture, so use the aesthetics of glass to your advantage.

BE Structural has many years of expertise dealing with glass and all things revolving around facade engineering. If you’re looking for a way to make your home or business stand out, glass architecture is the way to do it. Don’t hesitate to contact us at any time for a consultation to see how our experts can help you design the structure you desire.

Structural forensic engineer

3 Ways Due Diligence Can Extend the Life of a Building

Identifying and diagnosing problems with a building can help reduce the frequency of major issues and extend the life of a building. However, regular facility managers sometimes don’t have an experienced eye for identifying detailed structural issues, and aren’t provided with the technology to assist. The role of a structural forensic engineer is to conduct due diligence investigations to identify both hidden issues and issues seen by the naked eye. Here are three ways a due diligence forensic investigation can extend the life of a building by many years.

Investigating Potential Structural Deficiencies

Structural and design deficiencies are important to uncover as early as possible. Many facilities hire forensic engineering companies to look for potential issues that may lead to an unsafe environment, or potentially cause other issues down the road. Correcting structural deficiencies like foundation problems, roofing issues and building envelope failures can help save a lot of money on repairs in the future and extend the life of the building.

Identifying Patterns of Failure

Every building is different, so there’s no standard when it comes to what component of a building will fail first or most often. An experienced structural forensic engineer not only can identify an issue, but also determine the root cause of the issue with a little investigating. This is one of the main reasons why property condition assessments are recommended. Some issues require the expertise of a trained professional, whether it’s patterns of failure or just individual problems.

Use Technology Advantageously

During a full forensic investigation, experts will use different devices to detect issues in a building. The technology used can range from infrared devices that measure the amount of moisture in a structure’s wall system to x-ray imaging, electromagnetic equipment and more. Using advanced technology can help quickly identify the source of an issue. The benefits of quick identification of the source of an issue are many but most important is the ability to intervene early.  Allowing a water leak or other problem to continue for any amount of time can be dangerous and significantly decrease the life and overall serviceability of the building.

At BE Structural, we have a team of experienced professionals ready to conduct any type of forensic investigation needed on your building. Doing your due diligence will save a lot of headaches, time and money in the long run, so calling in the experts for an investigation periodically is worth it. We understand every building is unique and complex, so contact us today to see how our services can be beneficial to you now and in the future.

BE Structural contract structural engineering services

Could These Sustainable Building Materials Improve Our Future?

Despite the naysayers of our society, climate change is real and very much affecting our lives. To minimize the damage, it is important that we begin making changes to the way we live as soon as possible—starting with the ways we build our houses. Engineers across the world have started providing solutions to this complex problem by way of sustainable building materials, which have already debuted as the components of homes and commercial structures. Here are some of the best we’ve seen arise in the industry within recent years.

Layered Windows

Engineers have recently discovered there’s a much more efficient way to insulate windows than current methods allow. By adding a third layer to the typical doubly-layered window, engineers ensure the unit is better able to hold in heat and other forms of energy within a building, improving the energy footprint left behind. Triple layered windows are typically reinforced with an additional insulative coating, as well as paired with special frames designed to further lock in a building’s energy.

Timbercrete

“Timbercrete” is one of many new combination building materials to be offered by contract structural engineering services in recent years. It is made by blending typical concrete with sawdust, hence the name. It is regarded as a form of recycling, since sawdust typically has very little use, and is just as malleable as regular concrete.

Woolen Bricks

Experts from Scotland and Spain first came up with this new form of brickware, which takes regular brick and attaches fibers made from seaweed and natural wool. The application of these fabrics, however, is not some trendy fashion statement. Licensed structural engineer teams have found this particular form of brick is much more resilient than the standard bricks we use today—up to 37 percent more, in fact!

In addition, it proves easier to build with, as it hardens automatically as it dries. Compare this to the average bricks, which must be fired during the construction process. The wool and other fibers attached to this new form of brick also provide extra insulation for those living in Britain and other cold weather areas, as they naturally possess stronger hardiness against the climate.

Bales of Straw

The idea of building entire structures out of straw may sound like something out of The Three Little Pigs, but it’s an honest reality! Societies used to carry out this practice back during the beginning of civilization, when all there was to build with were local materials. One of the most convenient and efficient qualities of straw building are its insulative properties. In addition, it’s very easy to replace on the off-chance the structure should receive damage, thanks to its status as a natural resource. You may very well find structural engineering services offering straw building as an option for residential structures in the near future.

There’s a wealth of sustainable building materials to choose from when it comes to your next construction project. To learn more about your options as well as green building in general and other structural engineering services, feel free to contact us!

B.E. Structural contract structural engineering services

How Does Structural Glass Improve the Design of Your Building?

Structural glass has long reigned as a favorite building material for almost every professional structural engineer out there—but if you aren’t involved in the industry, this news may just sound confusing. What is structural glass, anyway? How is it used in buildings, and how is it different from any other kind of glass used out there? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more.

So, What Is Structural Glass?

If you were to ask a licensed structural engineer what structural glass is, they’d tell you, at a basic level, it is glass being used as the shell of a building. Rather than walls, engineers pad the building’s exterior with sheets of glass. This creates not only visual interest, but some amazing environmental effects.

To create structural glass, engineers first have to put it through a process called “glazing,” which is often either doubled or tripled. Glazing boosts the efficiency of structural glass. Specifically, it not only strengthens structural glass, but greatly reduces its chances of generating energy leaks. This allowed structural glass the ability to support a structure, or to be “load-bearing.” In fact, without glazing, there’s a good chance a structural glass building could shatter. Glazing ultimately allows structural glass to be more widely used in today’s buildings, which is great for the industry and consumers for myriad reasons.

Business offices around the country and the world are taking advantage of this unique innovation by incorporating it into their own buildings. Once you learn a little more about the various benefits structural glass has to offer, you may develop an interest in adding it to your own building at some point in the future.

What Benefits Does Structural Glass Provide?

If you’re planning on seeking out contract structural engineering services in the near future, here are some of the best reasons to consider structural glass as part of your building options:

  • Sturdiness. Structural glass isn’t quite the same as your typical glass window. It’s more like a whole wall of glass, scaling from top to bottom of a particular floor and sometimes replacing concrete walls entirely. They are layered and otherwise reinforced to ensure occupants, as well as the structure’s skeletal framing, are as secure as possible.
  • Waterproofing. Any structural glass on your building will be designed to keep excess water out—and be good at the job! This is due to the special glaze that coats each pane, making it effectively watertight.
  • Easy Maintenance. Because the glass is waterproof, it’s also much easier to clean than the average windowpane. If your building or business is very small, you can simply wipe down the windows in a hurry and be done with it. However, if you’re a large company with cleaning staff, they’re bound to appreciate this fact all the same!
  • Sound Insulation. This last advantage is perfect for those whose businesses involve passing a lot of confidential information back and forth. Simply put, with structural glass, what happens in the building stays in the building! You won’t have to worry about passers by on the outside hearing anything and using it for their own ends, providing a bonus layer of security for your daily operations.

Of course, there are many more benefits to using structural glass, but these are some of the most basic and practical we’ve found. In addition, this building material is also visually appealing, with an exterior capable of reflecting the goings-on of outside as well as general light. Be sure to contact us to learn more about how this innovative structural material can boost your building’s design and how a licensed structural engineer could help!