In many regions, adaptive reuse of existing buildings has eclipsed the design of new buildings. With more stringent credit requirements for the financing of new buildings, repairing older buildings has become an attractive option to developers.
Converting an old building to a new use requires an understanding of the existing structure. When original drawings are available, we study and analyze them. We then conduct visual condition surveys to confirm the drawings, determine load paths, and identify signs of structural distress or damage. Sometimes we find reference to or uncover archaic structural systems, which may prompt additional research.
Concealed conditions necessitate the use of exploratory openings or nondestructive testing techniques. The engineer must act like a detective, looking at small parts of the structure and putting the pieces together to understand how the structure behaves under both gravity and lateral loads.
Once we identify the structural systems and assess the condition, we repair, replace, or stabilize any structural damage and make the requisite changes to upgrade and/or convert the existing building to its new use.