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Many SEAOCC members have been responsible for the design of complex, innovative, and award-winning projects in California and around the globe. Read on to find out about the most recent SEAOCC Excellence in Structural Engineering Award winning projects and other innovative projects designed by local firms! For more information about the Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards and how to apply, please refer to our News and Awards page.

Design Firm: Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers, Inc.
Project: Los Angeles International Airport Delta Airlines Terminal 5 Seismic Upgrade and Renovation

The Delta Airlines Terminal 5 Renovation at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) consists of an extensive $75 million renovation and a complete voluntary seismic upgrade.  The renovation included complete removal and replacement of all finishes in the Landside Ticketing Buildings at Terminal 5.  Delta Airlines upgraded the passenger experience in their Ticketing Hall, Baggage Claim, and Security Checkpoint and added a new high value customer area.  The renovation structurally required extensive coordination with new architectural features supported from a variety of existing conditions.  Select columns and beams were removed to create larger volumes and improved access for the passengers.

The seismic retrofit was extensive as it included replacing the existing pre-Northridge moment frame system with a new Buckling Restrained Braced Frame lateral system.  This approach not only greatly enhanced the structural performance of the two structures that make up the Landside Building, but allowed the flexibility required to achieve the programming and architectural needs of the renovation. 

The Ticketing Buildings are a blend of steel and concrete structures constructed in several phases starting in 1959, with additions occurring in 1967, 1975, and 1986.  Seismic joints separate the structures into an East and West building.  The existing lateral systems for each building are similar with two and four-story, pre-Northridge moment frames which transfer all lateral loads into the level two floor diaphragm for distribution to concrete shear walls below.  Due to this configuration, a two-stage analysis was utilized for evaluating the existing systems and also to design new lateral system and seismic upgrades. 

One of the most challenging aspects of the project was the requirement for the terminal to remain operational during construction.  This required close coordination with the contractor for construction phasing.  The construction schedule was extremely aggressive, with construction crews working 24/7.  This required construction administration response times to be less than half that of a typical project.  These special project demands coupled with the inherent challenges of retrofitting an existing building built in multiple eras created a completely unique design and coordination experience.          

New Construction
Design Firm: Lionakis
Project: New Pacific Trails Middle School

Pacific Trails Middle School, planned for 1,000 students, is the newest school in the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD). Designed around a central student quad, outdoor dining commons and adjacent Media Center, the campus core feels more like a college Student Union than middle school campus. The first phase included an Administration Building, Gymnasium, Multipurpose Building, Learning Resource Center, Food Service and a Classroom Building.

Each new building is constructed of structural steel frames with special concentric braced frames to resist lateral forces. The roofs vary between sloped and flat portions to help create a unifying identity for all buildings on the campus. Separate buildings are designed as part of the greater campus, integrating exterior site trellises to bring visual continuity. Braced frames are celebrated and prominently featured in each structure and careful detailing of braced frame connections ensured that exposed connections met critical seismic demands and aesthetic goals.

The two-story classroom building carries the exposed structure to the exterior, where HSS kickers supporting the roof overhang are prominently displayed. A large CMU veneer wing wall knifes into the building, carrying the CMU from interior to the exterior and extending to the top of the parapet. To accommodate the tall wall, an HSS frame is concealed behind the veneer.

The gymnasium utilizes horizontal girts to provide out-of-plane support of the cladding system and provides a collector element to support the low and high roof portions from the main braced frames located around the gym. Large translucent panels extend the entire length of the exterior wall, providing ample daylighting. Adjacent to the gymnasium is a raised stage that opens to a flexible stage space, allowing for indoor and outdoor performances.

This new campus embraces SDUHSD’s vision, celebrates exposed structure and provides a strong structural identity for future expansion.

Sustainable Design
Design Firm: Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers, Inc.
Project: 16 Powerhouse – The Gateway at Fremont Park

Located at 16th and P Streets in Sacramento, this mixed-use development contains 50 luxury market-rate one and two bedroom rental apartments with balconies and 5th floor penthouse units. There are 50 parking spaces via an innovative stackable parking system, resident courtyard with BBQ, bike storage, fire pit, dog washing area, and more.  The project is certified LEED Platinum, Net Zero energy use and utilizes a photovoltaic thermal solar system resulting in 75% reduction in residential water heating energy usage, storm and gray water collection systems, and a superior building envelope (R38 roof insulation and R21 wall insulation).  The first level is a post-tensioned concrete podium with five stories of light framed wood construction above.  The 5th story of wood includes a mezzanine level, creating loft spaces in the premium units. Four local businesses occupy the retail space on the ground level, including Insight Coffee Roasters, Sun & Soil Juice Company, Orchid Thai Restaurant and Bar, and Magpie Cafe.

The structural systems included fire retardant treated sawn lumber for the bearing and shear walls which were maxed out per code limitations at 85’-0” in height. The floor systems utilized a premanufactured truss system with wood top and bottom chords and steel webs.  In order to maintain the fire rating of the wall systems and to help minimize shrinkage of this tall structure, the floor trusses were supported on wall top plates at each level with the new Simpson DHUtf hangers, which were created specifically to span across two layers of gypsum board.  The roof system included premanufactured wood trusses with parapets integral to the truss.

The first level of the structure included a traditional post-tensioned slab over concrete columns and shear walls.  The entire structure was supported on a mat foundation which was selected to help mitigate settlement and minimize soil improvements at the downtown Sacramento site, which is known for its poor sandy soils.  High levels of fly ash in the concrete mix designs were used wherever possible to aid in the pursuit of LEED platinum certification.      



Highlighted Projects

Do you have a challenging, unique, or otherwise interesting design or research project that you would like to share with the SEAOCC community? We are always interested in hearing about the ways our member firms and organizations are advancing the practice of structural engineering! Please contact the SEAOCC office if you would like to see your project on this webpage.