The Randall at Mill District | Q&A with Anisa Awad

Mill District

QUESTION 1: The Randall at Mill District project seems to be a significant undertaking. Could you elaborate on the role you played, the key structural engineering challenges you faced, and how your team overcame them to contribute to the project’s success?

Anisa Awad: The Randall at Mill District project, a 9.6-acre site located in Healdsburg, is one of many mixed-income publicly-funded affordable housing projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on. I’m incredibly proud of the entire team for creating more affordable housing for the local community. The project team included Eden Housing/Replay Destinations (Client), Pyatok (Architecture), and West+Creek (GC).

In my role as the Project Design Engineer, our team encountered unique design challenges. These challenges involved navigating complex property line requirements and fire rating considerations while staying true to the project’s architectural vision and ensuring structural integrity. Our design approach to these challenges included effective collaboration, innovative problem-solving, and precise engineering. Our efforts resulted in our team successfully addressing these challenges, fostering and building strong client relationships, and making a significant contribution to the overall success of the project.

QUESTION 2: Can you share some insights into how Element Structural Engineers ensured the safety and seismic resilience of The Randall at Mill District development?

Anisa Awad: Our commitment to safety and seismic resilience as structural engineers is paramount for every single project we work on. The Randall at Mill District presented a distinctive set of challenges, characterized by its unique features such as a long and narrow structure that had tuck-under parking requirements and special fire rating requirements. To address these challenges, the 3-story wood structure was designed on a Simpson Strong-Tie Strong Frame special moment frames system that accommodated the open space required for parking while meeting seismic requirements.

In addition, we saw an opportunity to have an innovative design approach while still meeting safety and seismic requirements by integrating MiTek picture frames as part of our lateral load-resisting system. The MiTek picture frame was a new and unique proprietary product that helped meet seismic demand.

QUESTION 3: Element Structural Engineers’ collaboration with various stakeholders is well-known. Could you provide an example from The Randall at Mill District project that highlights this close collaboration approach of structural design with the architectural and development vision?

Anisa Awad: The success of every project is where trust, communication, and collaboration come together.  Each team plays an integral role in the success of a project, and we understand the importance of the role we play. For The Randal at Mill District project, we worked closely with architects, design engineers, and contractors by providing continuous input and flexibility to ensure seamless coordination among disciplines throughout the construction process while ensuring the structural complexity of an all tuck-under parking structure. This collaborative spirit brought the development’s vision to fruition while guaranteeing the project’s structural integrity.

QUESTION 4: Are there any specific sustainable design features or practices that you are particularly proud of in this development?

Anisa Awad: As a firm that has committed to SE2050, sustainability is always at the forefront of how we approach our designs. The Randall at Mill District project encompassed a large solar canopy that cantilevered from the roof around the majority of the building parameters. Special care and attention were taken to engineer the canopies in a manner that not only upheld their structural integrity but also ensured they harmonized with the project’s architectural vision.

QUESTION 5: As a woman and minority-owned structural engineering firm, what message or inspiration would you like to share with aspiring structural engineers?

Anisa Awad: Being a woman and minority-owned firm in structural engineering, my message is to embrace your uniqueness, overcome challenges with determination, and let your passion for engineering drive you. Your diversity of perspective is a strength, and your contributions are invaluable to the field.

Learn more about The Randall at Mill District project.

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