SOCOTEC’s Structural Engineering Review of a Mixed-Use Project Uncovers Flaws


Project name: Confidential - Mixed-Use Project

Client: Confidential

Location: Illinois

Services Provided: Structural Engineering Analysis


SOCOTEC’s Structural Engineering Review Uncovers Project Flaws

SOCOTEC’s Specialty Engineering team provided a structural engineering review of a mixed-use project when the design/builder noticed an unusual amount of retrofits required during construction and decided to call in a third party to review the structural design. The review uncovered multiple errors related to load, structural calculations, and wall connections. Subsequently, the project required a structural retrofit, involving parties filing multiple claims for delays and additional costs. However, the structure’s safety and integrity are now secured.

Bill Bast and Joelle Nelson oversaw this structural engineering review, with additional expertise provided by Rupert Price and Rafal Walus. Partnering early with third-party experts like SOCOTEC can help maintain safety standards and prevent expensive retrofits and disputes. Specialty Engineering provides that special eye for spotting errors.

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Bill Bast Principal LPI Inc a SOCOTEC Company

William BAST

Principal, Regional Director - Midwest

Principal, Regional Director - Midwest +1 773 943 7355


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Basis of the Structural Engineering Review

The GC observed that several structural steel beams had severely twisted during erection of the precast concrete planks and brought SOCOTEC onto the project. The Specialty Engineering team’s initial peer review findings led to the complete structural engineering review and retrofit.

Technically, the project in question consisted of two mixed-use buildings, a garage, and a pedestrian bridge. Both contained retail space on the ground level and residential floors above. The retail space is created by a two-story steel structure supporting precast concrete planks as the podium for the residential floors. During their initial review, by applying Root Cause Analysis, SOCOTEC’s experts found missing multiple vertical load-bearing fixtures, missing calculations for unique structural details, failing design code checks, and more. Even one of these building design deficiencies causes potential danger to occupant safety through comprimised structural integrity.

Benefits of Early Expert Attention

The most efficient and cost-effective way to deal with structural issues is to prevent them entirely. While SOCOTEC provided a structural engineering review, Specialty Engineering also partners with GCs and designers before plans are complete. This project involved unique structural details and a variety of building uses. For an uncommon situation, experts can apply Materials Testing and Analysis to better understand the structure’s strengths, weaknesses, and variability.

SOCOTEC’s Chicago office provided a team leader in Bill Bast, Principal, Regional Director of the Midwest. With over 39 years of structural engineering experience, Bill has surely seen many failures and disputes. Pertinent to this collapse, Bill previously provided failure analysis for a four-story partial collapse of an Evanston, IL garage structure, and he oversaw the structural design of The Peninsula Hotel, a 17-story luxury hotel built atop an existing four-story retail building in Chicago.

Joelle Nelson, Principal Engineer, supported Bill on the project. With over 17 years in the industry, Joelle has practiced across the civil engineering field throughout North America. Relevant to this collapse, Joelle previously provided peer reviews assisting the design-build team throughout an NYC $1.5 billion construction project, and she provided structural design for a pedestrian bridge in Austin connecting a new hotel to the convention center.

Structural engineering review from Bill and his team is just the beginning within SOCOTEC’s Specialty Engineering Services. Available services include stress analysis, fracture mechanics, and engineering programs for a variety of industries such as infrastructure, transportation, energy, nuclear, government, industrial, maritime, and commercial. Every industry should have the safest experts on hand.

SOCOTEC Services Across Industries

SOCOTEC offers services and support across many areas of expertise. Specialty engineering support and structural engineering review are just the tip of the iceberg for SCOOTEC’s advisory capabilities. The firm employs 50 Specialty Engineering experts across 7 offices with a focus on Advanced Analysis, Failure Analysis, Commissioning, and Non-destructive Engineering. Within the advisory and litigation support services division, SOCOTEC has more than 120 experts across 11 offices in the US. SOCOTEC is experienced in numerous dispute resolution forums, including United States Federal and State courts, Canadian courts, other various foreign courts, and arbitration forums such as the American Arbitration Association (AAA), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), and London Court of International Arbitration.

Beyond advisory and dispute resolution services, SOCOTEC excels within the TIC (Testing, Inspection, Certification) industry in the construction and infrastructure sectors by coordinating teams to solve clients’ most complex problems. SOCOTEC offers six Service Lines: Building Envelope, Energy & Sustainability, Code & Planning, Dispute Resolution, Project Advisory, and Specialty Engineering.

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