Structural Engineering and Design

Ideally, the involvement of a structural engineer results in more economical construction and better structural performance of a building.

Structural Engineering and Design Services

Architects know that structural engineering is only a portion of the work necessary for a successful project. By the terms of their licenses, California Architects have to know how to do the structural engineering of a project, and they can take responsibility for the structural engineering for any building except hospitals. However, because most building projects are complex, even (or especially) the small residential remodel projects, architects and owners turn to structural engineers to provide their professional services. Ideally, the involvement of a structural engineer results in more economical construction and better structural performance of a building. This is most likely to occur when the structural engineer is involved in the design process from the very beginning.

The inclusion of the structural engineer early in the design development stage of a project can result in an initial layout of walls and openings that provides a rational and direct load path while at the same time fulfilling the architectural needs. A rational and direct load path translates directly into less expensive construction and better structural performance in an extreme environmental event.
Residential Workout Room Addition
Berkeley 2017. Copyright Joshua B. Kardon
When a project proceeds through architectural programming and design development without the input of a structural engineer, architectural decisions are made that may not take into account the structural consequences of those decisions. Then, when a structural engineer is brought into the project later for the production of construction documents, the structural design may have to impart adequate structural performance by “working around” the architectural design solutions already in place.
EBRPD Pt Isabel Miller Knox
Berkeley, 2017. Copyright Joshua B. Kardon 2019
The structural elements required in such cases, like steel moment frames, complicated collector assemblies, and heavy beams to accommodate overturning loads, add to the construction cost. Additionally, when an engineer has to rely on many such elements to provide an adequate structural system, the accusation of “over-engineering” is heard. This complaint is usually brought up by the Contractor who provided an initial construction cost estimate based on the early designs that did not benefit from the input of a structural engineer.

When the construction documents are complete, incorporating all the “workarounds” that result from late structural engineering input, and the actual cost of construction is higher than the initial estimate, the design team is then blamed for the difference.
Early involvement of the structural engineer results in better project outcomes for the owner and for the architect.

Contact

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Joshua B. Kardon + Company
2634 Grant St.
Berkeley, CA 94703 

Phone: 510-548-1892
Email: jbkse@jbkse.com