Public Sector

RCG has provided structural engineering services for various Federal and local public sector clients:  General Services Administration (GSA), National Park Service (NPS), San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC), City of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), City of San Francisco Department of Public Works (SFDPW), City of San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks  (SFRecPark), and San Francisco International Airport (SFIA).

Current projects include a second long term parking garage for SFIA,  conversion of a warehouse into a vehicle maintenance facility for SFDPW,  and renovation and expansion of Garfield Square Pool for SFRecPark.   Past projects include capital improvements and tenant improvements for the US Environmental Protection Agency for their Region 9 Headquarters in SF,   Solar Panel Installation Studies at City-Owned Buildings for the SFPUC, a Vehicle Maintenance Facility in SF for the FBI (GSA), a tenant improvement build-out for the FBI’s Headquarters in Oakland (GSA), a National Maritime Visitor Center for the NPS at the Historic Argonaut Hotel,  and Point Reyes Fire Cache Facilities for the NPS.

Seismic Evaluations & Retrofit

RCG specializes in the seismic strengthening of all types of building structures, from steel-framed office towers to single-story wood framed buildings, from historic to modern.  We seek to understand fully the structural weaknesses and strengths of the existing building; then develop a retrofit system that will achieve the desired life-safety and damage control performance level while maintaining compatibility with the original structure and architecture.

Seismic evaluations generally include investigation and documentation of existing conditions, an analysis of the building structure in accordance with a Code-accepted performance-based evaluation procedure, and a summary of vulnerabilities.  Following a seismic evaluation, retrofit design strategies and construction documents can be developed if desired.

Other earthquake engineering services we provide our clients include Seismic Damage Loss Estimates (aka PML) typically required for property due-diligence (lease, sell and purchase) and  insurance purposes; and seismic certifications mandated by the California Department of General Services (DGS) and the Federal General Services Administration for lease and purchase of properties.


RCG provides structural engineering design for both new and existing multi-family housing projects.

Our new housing project construction typically includes 3 to 4 stories of wood frame (Type V) or light gauge metal framing over a one to two story concrete podium parking structure (Type 1A).   Many of these developments include an interior courtyard with a pool and other common amenities.  Retail shops are often included at ground level.    The majority of our project experience has been in the City and County of San Francisco where building sites are located over soft underlying soils (e.g. Mission Bay and Hunters Point);  therefore deep pile foundation designs are often required.

RCG has served as a subconsultant to other structural engineering firms in execution of new multi-family residential projects.  RCG’s responsibilities have typically included the design of all vertical and lateral load carrying structural systems (including foundations) with the exception of post-tensioned concrete slabs.

Our existing residential housing projects typically include renovation and seismic retrofit design services of senior housing.  For these projects RCG serves as the structural engineer of record.



Office Tenant Improvements

RCG’s tenant improvement experience is extensive as we provide structural engineering services for office buildings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  Clients include architects, tenants, building management companies and ownership entities (e.g. CBRE, JLL, Paramount Group, Divco West, Equity Office, Hines, etc.).  Tenant improvements may include installation of high density mobile file systems, libraries, server rooms, safes, sliding/folding door supports, circulation stairs, HVAC equipment, ceiling cloud features, soffits, glass walls, lighting and lobby renovations.

Floor loading associated with high density filing systems, libraries, server rooms, and safes may exceed floor design live loads several times.  Existing floor construction (e.g. concrete-filled metal deck, beams and girders) must be evaluated for adequacy to support these heavy loads.  Where floor capacities are exceeded, strengthening strategies can be developed to increase capacity.

Circulation stairs are often introduced to add convenience for staff access between adjoining floors.  Stair designs may be utilitarian or incorporate unique design features (e.g. suspended tread and risers without stringers).   Our services include framed floor openings, stringer/tread/  riser designs, handrails, guardrails and all necessary floor support members.

We can assist the architect in the design of other tenant improvements such as special light gauge framing designs for suspended soffits, ceiling cloud features, and light fixtures.  Mobile partitions including Skyfold type partitions, typically require the design of secondary framing to vertically and laterally support track systems.

The installation of HVAC equipment suspended from the floor above typically requires the design of  secondary support framing (Unistrut, etc) , and may incorporate spring isolation devices to minimize transmission of vibrations and noise.


New Building Design

We are experienced in a wide variety of structural systems and building materials (wood, reinforced concrete, masonry, and structural steel).  The selection of the most appropriate structural system and construction material(s) is based upon consideration of many factors such as architectural design, building size, column/wall grid spacing, fire rating, construction budget, project scheduling, site location and conditions, desired performance, etc.  We will recommend the best solutions for your building project.

Complete engineering services can be provided.  These services typically start with feasibility/schematic designs to formulate the overall design concept (and importantly estimate costs of construction) and proceeds through design development and final construction documents.  Following submittal of the construction documents to the permitting agency, we provide all construction support services (shop drawing and submittal reviews, construction observation, clarifications, etc.) necessary to complete the building project.

We believe in a collaborative process of design.   Ideas and information from all participants in the design process (including the owner) contribute to forming an appropriate solution.   Wherever possible, participation by the builder (in a pre-negotiated contract) is often useful in assessing alternate structural systems and details of construction and their impact on cost and time to construct.

Historic Buildings

Historical buildings are a special category of existing buildings.  These buildings typically embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent the work of a renowned architect.   Our approach for renovating and retrofitting existing buildings includes a thorough investigation and documentation of existing construction, and development of strengthening elements that are compatible with the existing structure.   Special consideration is given to identifying, retaining and preserving historical building features.

We are well-versed in the California Existing Building Code which includes Historic Buildings (Chapter 12) and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  These Codes and Standards provide considerable latitude for preserving building features when renovating or upgrading historic structures.

Typical historical building construction types include wood frame, unreinforced masonry bearing walls with wood floors and roof, structural steel frame with unreinforced masonry infill walls and reinforced concrete floors, and all reinforced concrete construction.  We are familiar with many types of archaic construction details, including the repair of terra cotta and stone cladding.

We are the structural engineer of record for the renovation and seismic retrofit of numerous historic buildings in the City of San Francisco, several which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Representative projects include the Haslett Warehouse converted to the Argonaut Hotel and National Maritime Visitor Center;  the Fairmont Heritage Place – Ghirardelli Square;  the Juliana Hotel; the Villa Florence Hotel; 450 Pacific Street Law Offices; and the Whitehall Inn.   The Argonaut Hotel and National Maritime Visitor Center won the 2009 California Preservation Foundation Design Award for Large Rehabilitation Projects.   The 450 Pacific Street Law Offices won an Award of Merit for Restoration/Renovation Projects by California Construction magazine in their Best of 2009 competition.

High Technology and R&D Facilities

RCG staff is well experienced in providing structural engineering services for clients in high technology R&D and manufacturing.  We always seek to understand how a facility must function as a prerequisite to design; we collaborate closely with architects and laboratory designers, process and mechanical engineers, facility engineers, builders and users to develop a successful design that meets all operational needs and carefully integrates structure with building Architectural, MEP and process manufacturing systems.

We provide all necessary structural engineering services for the installation of equipment, tanks, piping and conduit support, ductwork, HVAC equipment, lab equipment,etc.   We design access stairs, platforms, maintenance catwalks, pipe racks, and hoists as needed for R&D and high technology manufacturing facilities.

Representative projects include Alexandria Life Sciences Building, 1500 Owens Street, San Francisco, CA; Genencor California Technology Center, Palo Alto, CA; Microsoft Server Design Cetner, Mountain View, CA; Impax laboratories, Hayward, CA; Interbiotics, Building 2, shoreline Tech Park, Mountain View, CA; and Elan Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco, CA.

Building Damage Investigations & Repair

We have experience in solving a wide variety of structural issues that arise in existing building construction.   Foundation settlement and water intrusion are two common causes of structural damage that can result in uneven floors, cracks in walls, breakdowns in exterior cladding systems, and wood decay.  Sometimes deficiencies in design or construction are the cause of structural issues.  Less frequent yet potentially devastating is damage caused by fire and ground shaking from earthquakes.

The process we follow helps us uncover the underlying cause of the damage and guides our solutions for repair and mitigating future damage.  We assess and document conditions at your building as necessary to understand the nature and extent of damage.  We then carefully review available construction documents to understand structural and architectural building systems that have a bearing on the condition.  An opinion as to the underlying cause of damage may be formed at that time.  When deemed necessary we will recommend the participation of testing labs and geotechnical engineers to assist us in our determination of cause.

Should the situation warrant, we may recommend selective removal of finishes to better observe conditions, and/or material testing or other specialized surveys (e.g. floor level surveys) to assist us in forming an opinion as to the cause of damage.   Approaches to repair the damage and eliminate or minimize the potential for its reoccurrence can then be explored, developed and implemented.

Additions, Alterations, Adaptive Reuse

Additions, Alterations and Adaptive Reuse projects are existing building projects that can generate out-sized value by expanding space and functionality, or creating all new uses.   Two outstanding examples of the firm’s adaptive reuse projects include the Argonaut Hotel, a conversion of a historic turn of the century warehouse building for the Del Monte Cannery Plant into a destination resort hotel and Maritime Visitors Center; and the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square conversion of a historic chocolate manufacturing center of 4 buildings into a fractional ownership residence managed by Fairmont.

Other more recent adaptive reuse projects include 4750 Patrick Henry Drive, Santa Clara, CA (warehouse to office); 2904 Orchard Parkway, San Jose, CA (warehouse to office); and SF DPW Central Shops, 450 Toland Street, San Francisco (cheese manufacturing plant to vehicle maintenance facility for City of San Francisco).

The Microsoft, Silicon Valley Campus, Mountain View, CA Lobby Addition is a representative building addition project which expanded the previous lobby into a larger, more welcoming space with interactive AV screens for visitors to the campus.


Exterior Building Maintenance Systems

RCG provides necessary structural engineering services to assist building owners and their façade consultants in installing new roof-top building maintenance equipment and/or replacement and upgrade of existing systems.

Typical structural engineering tasks for building maintenance systems and representative projects as follows:

New System Installations

  • Concept building maintenance system design studies with façade consultant
  • Design of davit base supports
  • CDA anchorage design
  • Design of powered track mounted system supports

Existing System Assessments and Upgrades

  • Condition Assessments of equipment and support systems with façade consultant
  • Repair and strengthening design of support systems
  • Equipment replacement structural evaluations
  • Derrick loading analyses for equipment installation

Due Diligence

Due-diligence building reviews are typically requested for lease, purchase, refinance or when obtaining property insurance.  These evaluations often include an on-site building condition assessment, detailed review of construction drawings and engineering reports, Scenario Expected and Upper Bound Damage Loss computations (PML’s), and a summary report with findings and recommendations.   RCG has performed due diligence reviews for numerous residential, office and commercial buildings.

The on-site building condition assessment is comprehensive and includes the following:  building enclosure system condition including exterior walls, windows and roofing for condition and integrity against water intrusion; examination of building perimeter for signs of building settlement issues; survey of floors for cracking and deflection; survey of building utility equipment for support, anchorage and bracing (e.g. chillers, fans, pumps, boilers, cooling towers, piping, etc.); and signs of prior earthquake damage to structural elements (walls, braces, etc.).   Representative photographs and notes are taken to document observations which are included in our due-diligence report.

Commercial and Retail

RCG has wide ranging experience in providing structural engineering design services for commercial and retail building projects including  restaurants, bakeries, cafés, retail stores and centers, markets, and banking.

Restaurants, cafe’s and bakeries require extensive HVAC and plumbing services, including exhaust hoods and fans, floor sinks, grease traps, and walk-in refrigeration and freezer compartments.   Tenant improvements at retail businesses often include new storefronts and display and storage areas subject to heavy floor loading for merchandise.  Banks typically include fortified construction for safes and lock boxes, glass enclosed meeting rooms, and associated office tenant improvements.

Building Utility Systems (MEP, Alternative Systems)

RCG provides necessary structural engineering services to assist our clients in projects which enable commercial, industrial and institutional customers to use less energy and reduce cost.  These projects have the added benefits of helping the environment and providing more reliable power.  Many forms of infrastructure improvements can be undertaken such as the installation of high efficiency HVAC equipment (e.g. cooling towers, chillers and boilers), cogeneration plants, fuel cells, photovoltaic panels and solar cogeneration systems that produce both electricity and hot water (Cogenra Solar).

Typical structural engineering tasks for building utility equipment and solar panel installations are as follows:

Building Utility Equipment

  • Support and anchorage design including anchorage for seismic and wind loads
  • Evaluation/strengthening of floor/roof structure for gravity, wind & seismic loads
  • Equipment foundations and pads
  • Utility piping support and bracing
  • Raised platforms, access walkways, stairs and guardrails

Photovoltaic Panels

  • Layout design for vendor-supplied support frames tailored to ground or roof mount
  • Support frame and foundation design for ground mount installations
  • Racking system design for roof mount solar panels, both fixed and tracking
  • Evaluation/strengthening of existing roof structure for gravity & wind loads
  • Inverter and Electrical Panel Foundations and Enclosures