Reaching New Heights
With an expansive portfolio of tall buildings in the US and abroad, Holmes approaches high-rise projects with a global perspective. Experience in New Zealand and Australia on high-profile developments like Commercial Bay propels Holmes to reach new heights on US soil. To efficiently achieve the architectural intent and sustainability goals, our structural and fire engineers employ performance-based engineering across the West Coast.
Tall buildings present special considerations for design teams. Using a Performance-Based Engineering (PBE) approach, Holmes is able to assess a project on an individualized level. PBE allows us to extend past the prescriptive code requirements, creating taller, unique, and more efficient buildings.
Bringing our PBE approach to the local authority having jurisdiction is key in the fire and life safety design of a high-rise. In cases where certain occupancies would otherwise be prohibited, such as on high-rise rooftops, our PBE methodology can help realize solutions that allow for occupancies otherwise outside of the prescriptive code. Holmes’ experience on new high-rises and a collaborative approach can be utilized to establish a tailor-made fire and life safety strategy for the project. This provides the owners, designers, and authorities the flexibility to explore alternative compliance options—while meeting the project objectives, the intent of the code, and budget constraints.
We have found great areas of add-value in cases where our structural and fire teams are able to collaborate on the same project. Early integration of both teams yields early cost savings, such as through the integration of structural fire engineering. On Commercial Bay, Holmes provided specialist structural engineering services to rationalize passive fire protection requirements. Advanced finite modeling determined that the composite columns and secondary beams did not require passive protection. This saved $4M in reduced fire proofing.
Tall Sustainable Design
There are multiple avenues that can be taken to provide sustainable solutions to vertical development. Construction materials play a crucial role in a project’s level of sustainability. Where appropriate, mass timber is the most sustainable building material and when that is not an option we often resort to carbon-sequestered concrete. Including this concrete in various structural elements of a building multiplies greatly with the increased height of a building.
Our PBE approach to tall buildings is especially crucial in approaching tall mass timber buildings. As tall timber continues to make its way into the market, local codes work to catch up with emerging technologies. Without this tailor-made PBE approach, tall timber design is highly limited in how tall you can build and how much mass timber you can expose.
Building renovations and seismic retrofits often fall into the category of sustainable tall design, since using a structure that is already in place limits the need for manufacturing new materials. Renovating and retrofitting an existing tall building comes with its challenges. Going in with a light touch mentality allows a building’s character to continue shining through, which is even more important when it comes to historic tall buildings.
We know we’re onto something when the engineering is pushed forward by all.