AlfaCharlie | The Architecture Studio

Working on projects in all parts of the country brings the exciting opportunity to tackle the regional design challenges that come with them. Delivering on our commitment to “big-firm capacity with small-firm service” requires the experience and state licensure coverage to get the job done wherever the site may be. Since as early as 2013, working with The Architecture Studio has provided us the opportunity to design structures in multiple regions of the country, including: Ohio, Nebraska, Texas, and Colorado.

One of our more recent design collaborations, the AlfaCharlie Modern Apartments in Denver’s northeast sector, offers luxury apartment living across 5 independent four-story wood framed structures. Our designs provide tenants with a 2-story steel framed community space, private drive-under garages, and a variety of site structures for the outdoor amenity spaces. The regional twist for this project was accommodating the post-tensioned slab on grade supporting the wood framed superstructure, due to the expansive soils native to the Denver area.

M+K Cycling Team Rides in MS Fundraiser

M+K’s mantra is Work Hard. Play Harder. Give Back. These six words sum up our work ethic, our culture, and our dedication to a greater purpose.

There is perhaps no better example of our commitment to this philosophy than the cycling team we formed this year to participate in the MS City to Shore fundraiser. Debuting in 1980, this annual ride starts in Philadelphia and finishes in Ocean City, NJ. Its sole intent is to raise funds to increase awareness and benefit medical research for Multiple Sclerosis, an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that renders different symptoms for each person affected.

Once we decided to put a team together, we had to make it official and design a cycling jersey. That in turn required that we come up with a unique name. We did a lot of research and came across the French cycling term ‘Rouleur’ which refers to a cyclist who excels at riding on flat or rolling terrain. This definition exactly matches the topography of the MS City to Shore ride. Thus, the name ‘Renegade Rouleurs’ was born!

What a GREAT day it was! Under a sunny blue sky, the feeling of camaraderie on our team of 8 riders as well as the energy among the other 4,000 riders out on the course was fantastic! The heartfelt support from volunteers, police, and civil servants along the route and at the finish line was truly inspiring. And what really made the training and participation in the event worthwhile was knowing that the funds raised will help a great cause…namely, finding a cure for MS.

As a team, we’re thrilled to have raised over $6500 – contributing to the impressive total amount raised of $3.4M and counting! We’re looking forward to recruiting more riders and raising more funds for next year’s team…the M+K Renegade Rouleurs will definitely ride again!

Mattie Dixon School Bag Drive

It’s back to school time again! For most kids, August is a month filled with anticipation about the new school year…and shopping for school supplies. But for families in need, it can be a stressful time. Their children want school supplies like all the other kids.

We recently conducted one of our favorite annual fundraisers on behalf of The Mattie Dixon Community Cupboard – M+K’s Annual School Bag Drive for children in elementary school. Every year our employees donate money to purchase backpacks and essential school supplies for kids in need in Ambler, PA. Mulhern+Kulp matches the total amount of funds raised by our employees. Volunteers fill each backpack with binders, composition books, folders, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, ear buds, etc.

We’re super excited that, in addition to the 30 backpacks filled with supplies, we raised an additional $850 which we have donated to Mattie Dixon!

M+K Judges Multiple Regions of Timber-Strong Design Build Competition

We were honored to once again serve as judges for various regions of the Timber Strong Design Build Competition [TSDB]. This competition tasks each team of university engineering students to design and build an artistically creative 2-story wood light-framed building that is sustainable, aesthetically pleasing and structurally durable. The students operate as a design/build firm and develop skills with wood design, BIM modeling, structural calculations, and hands-on actual construction of their structures at the competition.

Our representatives included Ricky Zabel who helped judge the Pacific Southwest Regional competition [hosted by University of California San Diego – UCSD], and Jared Hudson who judged at the Gulf Coast Region [hosted by Auburn University].

Per Ricky Zabel: “It was great to help judge the TSDB Competition, both for the reports and the in-person build. The combination of the technical design and hands-on building process are an invaluable opportunity for students to gain real life structural engineering experience. The confidence and understanding exhibited by the students really makes me excited about the next generation of engineers in the wood-framing industry!”

The Timber Strong Design Build Competition is sponsored by: Simpson Strong-Tie, APA [The Engineered Wood Association], AWC [American Wood Council], and ASCE [American Society of Civil Engineers].

MuCullough Architects & Adam Leland Homes

This exquisite custom home in Clyde Hill, WA, is one of the latest projects developed from our collaboration with McCullough Architects in the Seattle suburbs. Built by Adam Leland Homes, this 2-story 5-bed/6-bath offers both quality and quantity over its 7,000+ square feet. Cathedral ceilings, wide-open layouts, and multiple covered outdoor areas create the perfect backdrop for the inspired architectural touches. While all its bells and whistles would be a marvel in any setting, the direct view of the Seattle skyline across Lake Washington certainly doesn’t hurt.

The expansive indoor spaces and covered deck areas which make these picturesque views possible also create structural challenges for supporting both the vertical and lateral building forces. Supporting 8-foot cantilevers, sometimes in two directions, in a 10-inch-deep roof system required integrating steel beams into the wood framing when engineered lumber wouldn’t cut it. The tall windows make for great views but require careful design of the few remaining exterior wall panels for lateral support, particularly in regions with high seismic demand like the Pacific Northwest.

We always enjoy working alongside the great staff at McCullough Architects and the awesome team at Adam Leland Homes.

Engel Group | Bedford Arms

Just a short walk from the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park, Bedford Arms is a 9-story apartment building completed a few years ago in Brooklyn, NY. Unlike most new multi-family projects which may provide a small percentage of affordable units to meet minimum municipal requirements, Bedford Arms was designed to offer 100% of its units as affordable housing for the surrounding community. Alongside architect John Schimenti, our multi-family team provided designs for mid-rise residential developer Engel Group as both the Engineer of Record and Designated Engineer for the light-gauge metal bearing wall system.

To help keep costs down, hollowcore concrete plank floors supported on light-gauge metal bearing walls were selected for the 8 residential levels as a less expensive alternative to a flat plate cast-in-place concrete system and helped streamline construction for the cramped urban site. While accounting for a partial basement with all the challenges of tight property line margins common to city projects, the foundation design required an intricate combination of eccentric footings, grade beams, and mat foundation slabs.

BCA Architecture and Design | Harvest Pizzeria

While most of our projects with BCA Architecture and Design are high-end custom homes, we took a detour to tackle this adaptive re-use project in the heart of the South Slope Brewing District in Asheville, NC. What is now a contemporary pizzeria serving up local ingredients with a focus on sustainability began as just a shell of the original 1920’s construction.

This sustainable mission began with construction, where an effort to keep much of the existing 2-story masonry walls and steel bowstring trusses made this project an exercise in thinking outside the box from the start. Through a series of slotted connections, over-sized holes, and hand-tightened bolts, our design team was able to thread the needle in detailing a new steel frame to brace the existing masonry from the inside without imparting new load. Our final design incorporated most of the original bowstring trusses, offering a rustic aesthetic for the diners below. In recognition of our innovative design solutions in overcoming these challenges, the project earned a second-place finish at the 2022 DVASE structural engineering awards.

The result was a two-story dining area with mid-height mezzanine, all beneath a partially covered rooftop bar. From the unique history and intriguing finished product to the one-of-a-kind design, this ambitious project was a pleasure to be a part of, no matter which way you slice it.

M+K Teams Up with Habitat for Humanity

Giving back has always been a main pillar of the Mulhern+Kulp culture. While our efforts to lend a hand to those less fortunate takes on many shapes and sizes, it’s particularly meaningful when our volunteer work crosses paths with our professional careers. We recently had an opportunity to put our expertise in wood-frame construction to the test right in our backyard, helping Habitat for Humanity with a build just outside Philadelphia in Hatboro, PA.

Jeannie Sachs, the local Director of Programs for Habitat, noted: “While we appreciate all of our volunteers, it’s really great to have the kind of skilled help that a structural engineering firm like M+K provides.”

The site will eventually be home to 2 duplexes built for local families in need of permanent housing. Seven volunteers from our home office teamed up with a Habitat Project Manager and two veteran volunteer team-leads to keep construction moving, framing out interior walls and exterior window openings. Getting to swing a hammer while supporting a great cause was an absolute pleasure, and helping create a quality product from the other side of the drawings was an experience we hope to do again soon!

M+K Participates in Mattie Dixon Food Drive

A key aspect of our award-winning culture is our company-wide commitment to giving back. One of the charities we support in the Philadelphia area is the Mattie Dixon Community Cupboard, a fantastic charity that supports those in need located down the road from our home office.

In addition to volunteering at Mattie Dixon throughout the year, our team has regularly participated in Food Drives since we began partnering with them over 10 years ago. To make the event fun for our employees – and to ensure that we amassed as much food as possible – we turned it into a competition.

This year we divided our staff into six teams, incentivizing both teams and individual employees with prizes. We are thrilled to have exceeded all previous year’s donation totals, accumulating nearly 1400 pounds of grocery items! M+K supplemented this with a cash donation of $1.00 per pound, totaling $1400!

Thanks to all of our great employees for their generous donations, and thanks to Mattie Dixon Community Cupboard for all they do, day in and day out, to help those in need.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Meyer Design | Luxor Bala Apartments

Luxor at Bala Cynwyd offers luxury apartments and first-class amenities in the Philadelphia region. True to their namesake, they aim to create a living experience typically found only at luxury resorts. Working with Westrum Development and the architects at Meyer Design, the building consists of a large 4-story wood framed structure on two levels of composite steel framing, which create space for over 160 units over full levels of amenity area and covered parking, not to mention courtyards, a pool deck, and front entrance balcony. With quick access to shopping and dining experiences the Philly Main Line is known for, it makes full use of its location, complete with sweeping views of the city skyline.

Finding naturally competent soil on site is not always a given, particularly in regions which have seen industrial activity and urban development for centuries. Our team recommended installing a network of rigid inclusions to stiffen the existing soil and allow for the use of shallow foundations in lieu of deep foundations. Knowing what to expect when working with these systems has become an essential part of our expertise in multi-family design projects.

It was a pleasure working with Meyer Design and Westrum Development on Luxor Bala Cynwyd, the first of 6 planned Luxor apartment projects across our region.