Holmes Structures Demonstrates National Excellence With Structural Engineering Award

Structural engineering firm Holmes Structures received a 2017 Outstanding Project award from NCSEA for the seismic retrofit of the Bay Area Metro Center in San Francisco, CA.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco-based Holmes Structures was recently honored with an Outstanding Project award from the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA). Each year NCSEA issues several outstanding awards for Excellence in Engineering and the winners are presented the awards at the annual Structural Engineering Summit. Holmes Structures was selected as the Outstanding Project in the ‘Forensic/ Renovation/ Retrofit/ Rehabilitation Structures over $20 Million’ category for the seismic retrofit upgrade of the historic, eight-story Bay Area Metro Center in San Francisco.

CEO of Holmes Structures, Zander Sivyer, said, “We are delighted and honored to be recognized by our peers for this award. We greatly enjoyed working with the Bay Area Headquarters Authority, the Perkins + Will led design team, and the McCarthy led construction team on this project. The completed project is a great reflection of the creative structural design and sustainability principles at our firm.”

Originally built in 1942 as a World War II tank assembly plant, the Bay Area Metro Center previously operated as a regional U.S. Postal Service facility, a major military supply depot, and a Marine Corps dormitory over the years. It has now evolved into a collaborative workplace that houses four government regional agencies: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Association of Bay Area Governments, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Regional leaders envisioned investing in the renovation of the building for a change of use to commercial offices: this undertaking required a large-scale seismic retrofit.

The Bay Area Metro Center approached Holmes Structures seeking an alternative solution for renovation of the structure. The 525,000 square-foot building was originally constructed with large floor plates and comprises half of a city block. Holmes Structures proposed the removal of mass from the building’s core, reducing the number, and cost, of required structural additions while prioritizing natural light and contemporary design. This modern space commands more revenue per square foot than it would have as a dark continuous floor plate.

“Holmes Structures really understood the Bay Area Headquarters Authority’s requirements from the outset,” said Andrew B. Fremier, Deputy Executive Director for Operations. “The overall design approach integrated both our seismic retrofit needs and a structural strategy to bring more natural light into the building’s interior by limiting the use of shear walls. The result is a modern, safe and spacious home that promotes collaboration among public agencies and private tenants alike.”

Reducing energy costs and bringing natural light into the 64,000 square foot plate, Holmes Structures “lightened” the building by removing 3000 sq. ft. from the interior floor plates at each level to create the eight-story atrium in the center of the building and also by removing two ground floor columns to create space for the auditorium. The atrium serves as a welcoming lobby to the public who attend large hearings in the auditorium.

“I really enjoyed breathing new life into this building that had gone under-utilized and neglected for so many years” Leslie Zerbe, Senior Engineer at Holmes Structures, said on working on the project, “at the start of the project, it appeared antiquated next to its neighbors in the modern SOMA district of San Francisco, and I’m proud that it is now a leading-edge building being recognized for innovation in design.”

Holmes Structures, in collaboration with the client and design team, achieved a LEED Gold sustainable benchmark for the Bay Area Metro Center. Energy-reducing solar panels line the top of the atrium, and much of the distinguishing exposed wood accents were repurposed from local sources. 40-foot long Douglas fir logs recovered from the demolished, neighboring Trans Bay Terminal were repurposed as counters and finishes. The building’s feature stair incorporated wood from bumper rails that that once protected the building walls from mail carts when it served as San Francisco’s main mail sorting facility. Holmes Structures worked closely with the client and design team to transform this seemingly impenetrable building into a bright and modernized workspace, complete with a 125-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, public forums, libraries and café.

About Holmes Structures
Holmes Structures is a part of the international Holmes Group, with offices in California, Australia, Netherlands and New Zealand. Holmes Structures provides structural engineering throughout the western region of the United States. Holmes Structures has been honored with over 70 national and regional awards with notable projects such as the Adobe Campus in Utah, the seismic retrofit and renovation of 140 New Montgomery, and the Bay Area Metro Center. For more information, please visit http://www.holmesstructures.com.


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