M+K Article Published in Structure Magazine

We’re very excited to have had the following article published in the November issue of Structure magazine. It goes without saying that we’re super proud of the M+K staff members who co-authored this piece: Bert Coelho, P.E. [Principal + Dir. Business Development], Kevin Quan, P.E. [Sr. Project Engineer], and Micah Milner, P.E. [Project Engineer].

Steel Stud Bearing Walls

An Alternative to Traditional Podium Levels

Developers are always looking for new and innovative ways to make buildings more profitable and financially efficient. Traditionally, a multi-story bearing wall building over one to two levels of steel or concrete, also known as a podium structure, has filled this need by offering high-density residential units at the upper levels and parking or retail spaces at the lowest floors. For multi-story residential buildings, wood construction is generally considered the most cost-efficient form of construction, followed by cold-formed steel (CFS) bearing walls and then heavy steel or concrete framing. Because of this, developers have sought to maximize the number of wood-framed floors over the podium level before switching to more costly materials.

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Wood bearing wall systems are limited to either 4-stories using Type V-A construction or 5-stories using Type III-A construction. Both types of construction can be supported on grade or a podium structure. Podium structures have been covered extensively in previous articles by STRUCTURE magazine. They are proven methods of meeting not only financial requirements but zoning and regulatory obligations as well. This article focuses on an alternate hybrid system that maximizes the number of stacking levels of residential units by introducing multiple levels of CFS bearing walls to support the wood-framed levels before transitioning to the transfer level or foundation.

The Challenge

Recently, some developers have opted to add additional residential units below the Type V-A and III-A constructed units. This means the stacking residential units from above are carried down below the podium level by minimizing or removing the retail and parking areas altogether. This change increases unit density, thus maximizing more profitable areas by limiting the less profitable retail and parking areas.

The challenge with incorporating stacking units from above with a typical steel or concrete podium superstructure is the interference of regularly spaced columns with residential unit layouts. While the podium column scheme lends itself well to open spaces required for retail and parking, the standard grid pattern presents architectural challenges at residential levels in accommodating columns within the unit layouts. Additionally, non-stacking loads from the residential bearing wall system above inevitably require deep steel or concrete beams or heavily reinforced concrete slabs and may even require drop panels. The ideal column grid may also disrupt stacked window layouts along the exterior of the building below the podium level.

Architecture is not the only discipline to face challenges with this system. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems are typically accommodated by having stacking mechanical penetrations for the full height of the building. In a wood-framed building, these are commonly located within the wall stud cavity. Therefore, stacked penetrations running down through the steel or concrete podium structure invariably conflict with beam and column locations that directly support the walls above.

To resolve these issues, architects frequently need to create new unit types and floor layouts to work around the traditional podium structural elements. Unfortunately, the new layouts can create spaces that may be inefficient or undesirable to developers or prospective tenants. Continue reading “M+K Article Published in Structure Magazine”

M+K Places 2nd In National Marketing Competition

We’re excited to announce that M+K’s 20th Anniversary Branding Program placed 2nd in the Corporate Events category of The Zweig Group’s National Marketing Excellence Awards competition!

In preparation for the company-wide celebration last December, the marketing team developed a brand identity that was applied to a range of materials for the event. The centerpiece of this program was the invitation which featured the brand identity and introduced the venue to M+K employees.

The gala was held in Philadelphia at the venerable Franklin Institute, one of the nation’s oldest centers of science education and development in the United States. By all measures, it was a great night…certainly one for the ages!

The M+K marketing team is very proud of this recognition by our peers in the engineering, architecture, and building industries. As always, we look forward to the development of future projects that showcase our award-winning culture and the exceptional work that we do for our great clients.

M+K Celebrates its 20-Year Anniversary

Wow! Just, wow! On December 3rd, our employees and their spouses / significant others from all of our offices came together at Philadelphia’s iconic Franklin Institute to celebrate our 20-year anniversary. It’s hard to put into words how much fun we all had!

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The Black-Tie event began with photos on the red carpet and cocktails & hors d’oeuvres in “The Brain” exhibit. We then transitioned to the rotunda to have dinner in the presence of the larger-than-life Benjamin Franklin statue. Throughout the evening several employees took time to look back and speak about their experiences at M+K. They painted a fun, informative and heartfelt picture of our first 20 years in business. The formal event closed with Mike and Joe presenting an inspiring vision of the future for the firm. With most employees spending the night at the 5-star Logan Hotel nearby on Franklin Square, we hosted a catered after-party there which provided a wonderful opportunity to continue the momentum!

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It was such a joy bringing everyone together. This will be warmly remembered for years to come and will certainly have a home in the annals of M+K lore.

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It is with a combination of pride and humility that we reflect on this achievement and look forward to the next 20 years. We’re grateful beyond words for the wonderful relationships we have built and the trust that both our employees and clients have placed us over the years. Going forward, we’re looking forward to continuing to earn that trust – and hope that we all continue to grow and succeed together.

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Ginsburg Development Companies

With construction dating as far back as 1872, what was once the convent of the Episcopal Sisters of Saint Mary’s has been part of the history and heritage of Peekskill, NY for nearly 150 years. Built into the hillside overlooking the Hudson River, this century-old convent and chapel has been entirely restored in modern luxury as The Abbey Inn & Spa by Ginsburg Development Companies. While maintaining much of the timeless exterior, the reimagining of the interior for the luxurious suites, event spaces, and full-service spa has earned it the #3 rank on the “10 Best New Hotels” list by USA Today.

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This project combined the inherent challenges of designing large, non-uniform spaces with working off existing (and dated) construction. Century-old wood framed floors were reinforced to support various new, non-stacking bearing walls needed to accommodate the ambitious new layout. Catching up on decades of structural code compliance while designing for new heavily loaded spaces required integrating new steel framing, sometimes supported on a combination of existing rubble masonry and fresh concrete piers tied into bedrock. Never knowing what the field team would uncover certainly kept us on our toes.

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Our team enjoyed this unique adaptive reuse project with the team at Ginsburg, which was a big deviation from their typical “new construction” projects consisting of mid-rise and high-rise multi-family buildings.

Asher Slaunwhite Architects

When one of the oldest homes in Longport, NJ, was due for a long-awaited facelift, long-time client and high-end custom shore home specialist Asher Slaunwhite Architects was brought on to help save this turn of the century classic. Though many of the wants and needs of this renovation would require significant structural change, the plan from the beginning was to save as much of the existing structure and look as possible. The result is a fully modernized three story shore home with new full-height addition, roof deck, and entirely redesigned open-concept interior.

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We worked closely with the architect and GC (Buck Custom Homes) during the construction phase to get the trickier aspects of the redesign just right. To meet current building and flood codes, the house had to be lifted to allow construction of an entirely new foundation system. With a great deal of temporary bracing, new steel beams were installed into the existing wood floor system to create the desired open concept while keeping the HVAC system entirely within the floor depth. For our efforts in designing the brand-new feel of this home off the good bones of the original 1896 construction, our team was awarded the Outstanding Project Award for Single Family Homes by DVASE, the Philadelphia area Structural Engineering Association.

The Beechwood Organization

The Selby in Westbury is an expansive 500,000+ square foot 5-story building over 2 levels of covered parking in the heart of Nassau County on Long Island. A combination of luxury apartments and hotel rooms share top-notch amenities in this unique mix of residential & commercial space. The Beechwood Organization is Long Island’s largest homebuilder and developer of sophisticated lifestyle communities.

In addition to the typical complexity associated with parking structures such as ramps and a recessed pool, the mixed-use nature of the superstructure presented its own challenges in accommodating the wide variety of hotel and apartment unit types and amenity spaces. Designing a structure which could allow for these spaces was facilitated by the increased capacity afforded by the light-gauge framing. As with many of our larger multifamily projects, having light-gauge bearing wall design firmly in our wheelhouse allows us to keep up with these taller and more ambitious structures where wood framing may not have been feasible.

Working alongside Ismael Leyva Architects of Manhattan for the first time, The Selby is just one of several large multifamily projects our team has designed for Beechwood in recent years. In addition to our expertise with both wood framed and light-gauge metal projects, they’ve grown to appreciate our practical designs and honest, straightforward communication.

Virtual Games Live On, Post-Covid

Who knew what was around the corner at the beginning of March 2020? What initially was a shock to the system soon became a long-distance endurance race. Teams and ZOOM became essential tools for both business and social interaction.

Whether working in the office, competing at a company-sponsored event, or relaxing at a Friday Happy Hour, maintaining an upbeat and dynamic culture is central to our mission. Covid challenged all of this. But as the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade”. We adjusted on the fly.

Our quarterly poker night seamlessly transitioned into an online event. Super fun virtual games like Drawful, Trivia Murder Party and Fibbage became staples. We even channeled our inner Vincent Van Goghs and held a part virtual / part in person ‘Painting with a Twist’ get-together. As an added perk we held lotteries to reward participation at the end of our virtual company-wide quarterly meetings.

Beyond the obvious benefit of these events, a key upside has been the enhanced cultural connection they have created between our four offices. So much so that, while Covid is going away, our virtual events are here to stay!

M+K Wins National Marketing Award

We’re really excited to announce that our new brochure came in first place in its category in the 2021 Zweig Marketing Excellence national awards competition!

We live in a fast-paced, headline and caption world, so we wanted someone to be able to review this brochure in a minute or less and walk away with an understanding of our core competencies and what makes M+K tick.

Over the past several years we’ve been working hard to optimize our brand and to up our marketing game as part of our company wide strategic growth plan. While this piece is intended to support targeted business development nationally over the coming years, its primary purpose out of the gate was to bolster sales efforts on the West Coast concurrent with the opening of our office in San Diego early last Fall.

Our team is proud of the achievement, thankful for the award, and looking forward to future marketing projects. We truly aspire to achieve excellence in all aspects of our business, not just our engineering services and culture. Congrats to our Marketing Team!

Dan Ryan Builders

Dan Ryan Builders is among the top home builders on the East Coast, currently operating in 9 states and 17 markets – from Pennsylvania to Georgia. While our relationship started with engineering homes for the Charleston, SC, market on the coast nearly 10 years ago, our team has both grown with DRB as they’ve expanded into new markets and have earned the confidence of their other divisions – to the point where we service the significant majority of their portfolio.

They have recently entered the Coastal Delaware market with 5 new communities under their DRB Coastal brand. Our team has extensive experience in this region and helped them develop local design standards and details. Anyone who builds in multiple jurisdictions understands the various “ism’s” and provincial nature that can literally come with the territory. Accounting for these factors prior to the first permit submittal can help avoid painful delays.

As material shortages continue to ripple through our industry, we’ve been working closely with their team to identify next-level value engineering opportunities and explore alternate options to ensure construction can continue with the materials that are available.

M+K Ranks 3rd In National Awards Competition

We’re thrilled to announce we were just voted #3 ‘best structural engineering firm to work for’ in the nation by The Zweig Group! We’re extremely proud to consistently rank in the top 5 structural firms, with a #1 ranking in 2017. This isn’t possible without the passion and engagement of our awesome employees, in both the work we do and the social activities we enjoy.

Since the day we first opened our doors, establishing a fun and supportive workplace has been a top priority. Promoting an environment based on the notion of always doing the right thing – treating others with courtesy and kindness – is simply a reflection of who we are.

Creating an outstanding company culture has been critical to both attracting and retaining the best people in the business. Why? Because you need great people to provide great service! There’s no doubt that M+K employees are the best in the business.