Some of our proudest civil engineering projects

McNeil EngineeringThere are many different types of engineers and engineering projects. At McNeil Engineering, we employ engineers of different specialties to make sure projects we work on get best specialized assistance and care possible. Today, we want to highlight our civil engineering staff. We are proud to employ top-notch civil engineers. It’s easy to confuse different kinds of engineering, so we’ll give you a quick run-down regarding the specifics of what a civil engineer does.

A civil engineer is an engineer in charge of planning how a structure will fit into the world around itself. Civil engineers will analyze plans and account for everything from parking to traffic, annual weather patterns, and historical problems in the area. The goal is to see how they can mitigate those problems. The civil engineer must understand how the structure will interact with the surrounding area. We are proud to have engineers on our team who are equipped to make these determinations. Let’s talk about some civil engineering projects we are proud to have completed!

1. Enos Wall Mansion

Enos Wall Mansion is a project we are proud to have been a part of. It means so much to be entrusted with the re-development of such an old and historic building. The Enos Wall Mansion was built in 1905 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Civil engineers work on the re-development and restoration of a building like this because they can analyze problems the building has dealt with in the past and make plans to mitigate those problems in the future. When working on an older building, civil engineers get the opportunity to work on aspects of the building that didn’t even exist when the building was first built, which is pretty exciting. New methodologies and technologies keep civil engineering exciting.

For example, our team of civil engineers, when working on the Enos Wall Mansion re-worked the paving plan so that the paving around the building would be better suited for its current and future use. Our teams also redesigned the storm drainage and gutter system, as weather patterns have changed massively in the hundred years Enos Wall Mansion has been standing. If you are interested in learning more about our work on the Enos Wall Mansion, don’t hesitate to visit our website!

2. Abravanel Hall

It was such an honor for our team to be part of the remodeling of such an iconic and important building. Built in the late 70′s, Abravanel Hall has made a name for itself as an important staple of Salt Lake City culture. Abravanel Hall is home to the Utah City Orchestra, and their performances in the great concert hall are an absolute joy to witness. Behind the scenes of every cool building like this is a lot of, you guessed it, civil engineering work.

Our team of expert civil engineers had the opportunity to re-design the entire storm management system at Abravanel Hall. They designed a retaining wall, a storm water collection system, and a long-term erosion control plan for the building. This is so important for a building like Abravanel Hall, which contains a concert hall constructed of wood. The concert hall was built in an incredibly specific way to optimize acoustics, and storm damage can render all that complex architecture pretty much useless by warping the wood and ruining the sound.

3. The Sugarhouse Monument

This was another project we were incredibly excited to be a part of. We got the opportunity to take an iconic part of Salt Lake City, the Sugarhouse Monument in the Sugarhouse Business district, and return it to its former glory, and adding some fun new touches along the way. It’s so exciting for our team to be part of a project that we know will bring so much joy to the people who experience it. McNeil’s civil engineering team has designed a plan to completely turn the Sugarhouse Monument Plaza into more than just an area between buildings, it will be an event center for all Salt-Lake natives and their families to enjoy.

There will be nearly an acre of open public land, perfect for picnics or walks with friends. The civil engineers at McNeil will also redesign the entire water management system, restore the iconic fountain that is the Sugarhouse Monument, and add an interactive water feature that will be a fun place for families. There is also an area for art exhibit in the design plans. The Sugarhouse Monument is a truly incredible example of how civil engineering is important to the development of not only transportation or more efficient erosion management, but it is also essential in the development of thriving, happy communities.

We hope you have enjoyed this look through some of our proudest civil engineering projects!


You’d never guess these products were invented by engineers!

greatest inventionsSo many of humanity’s greatest inventions are the work of well-known historical engineers. Some of our most primitive inventions like tools, the wheel and even fire were works of the top engineering minds of their respective times of development.

Of course, some modern luxuries are also clearly fetes of engineering, like running water, skyscrapers and our cars that seem to get more unbelievably futuristic every day! Usually when we imagine inventions that are prime examples of engineering genius, we do tend to think exactly like this, we think primarily of inventions and new state of the art craftsmanship. Today, we’re interested in exploring some everyday products invented by engineers that you might not have ever imagined were complex engineering masterpieces. These items represent how most of our daily-use items are so much more complex and interesting than we ever could have imagined.

Far too often, people are categorized by whether they are an artistic person or a scientific person. This is unfortunate, because so often, scientific discoveries lead to new ways to express creativity. Just as we wouldn’t have paint without scientists mixing different pigments and different suspensions from nature, we wouldn’t have sewing as we know it today without a few wonderful structural engineers from the late 18th and 19th Century. Before the sewing machine, wearable garments took hours of time and significant effort to produce. The process was limited by the amount of free time someone had in a day, how practiced they were, the quality of their materials and also just by human error in general.

We often think of the “old days” as a time when everyone made their own clothes, but this is a common misconception. Most of the 18th and 19th century, the early Victorian Era especially, people only made their own clothes if it was absolutely necessary due of lack of funds. This is because hand-sewing the garments of the day was such a time consuming and daunting task that most people did not have time to sew their own clothes, and often opted to hire a tailor or dressmaker instead. Home sewing didn’t become a viable option for most people until the first commercially successful sewing machine in the 1850′s. Invented by Elias Howe and produced by Isaac Singer, the first iteration of the modern lockstitch machine we know today hit the market in 1860. This machine was completely mechanical, using a series of what are known as simple machines in engineering, like pulleys.
This machine consisted of dozens of complex parts that had to work together structurally, and couldn’t have been developed without an engineers mind

Like we discussed with the sewing machine, fashion and wearable garments don’t often come to mind when we think of engineering inventions. However, in order to make wearable garments that are effective, it takes someone like an engineer to understand what the item must be able to withstand. The next engineering invention is a prime example of this necessity, the athletic shoe. Throughout most of the 18th and 19th century, most shoes people wore were a variation on the boot. Most shoes consisted of leather uppers and wooden soles, which worked well for what they were made for. Activities like walking long miles on cobblestone or working in harsh conditions were perfect for shoes such as these.

However, in the mid 1800s, a new trend was starting to grow, the trend of health and fitness. At this time the tuberculosis epidemic had been ravaging Europe for a generation, and people wanted to start focusing on taking care of themselves and being healthy, and so from that, the athletic shoe was born. This shoe was produced by engineers at the Liverpool Rubber Company, who had tested various different prototypes for how they would withstand different types of fitness. They tested structurally how much force they could take, and how they would act in different weather environments outside. These are all factors of structural engineering, and the sneaker is a feat of structural engineering

One of the earlier inventions that is such a cool example of engineering at its best is the pendulum clock, which technically has many inventors, all strong examples of historical engineering masterminds. Some of these minds include Galileo and Christiaan Huygens. The pendulum clock works on the basis of continuous oscillation in a fixed cycle, or in laymen’s terms, the fact that if a pendulum swings back and forth continuously each swing will last the same amount of time. This invention changed the way that humans tell time by being able to measure smaller and smaller increments of time

The sewing machine, the athletic shoe, and the pendulum clock are all great examples of the fact that most inventions require a good engineering eye to develop, and at McNeil Engineering we are so excited to have even a small part in engineering history. We look forward to continuing to learn and grow, furthering technology and discovery forever.


A Primer on Landscaping vs Landscape Architecture

Landscape ArchitectureAt McNeil Engineering, we offer a wide array of helpful services for many unique products. Because of this fact, sometimes it can be a little bit difficult to explain what we do and what services we can offer! We employ engineers of all kinds including civil engineers, structural engineers, and landscape engineers. We work on surveying projects whether that be land surveying or surveying buildings. Additionally, we can serve as an excellent resource to construction projects at any point, and we also can be a resource to any project on a building or area of land that already exists but might need a little bit of sprucing up!

Today, we’d like to talk about landscape architecture, which is one of the many amazing services we offer. “Landscape Architecture” is not a term that is as commonly used as just “landscaping,” so, sometimes people can get confused and think that they are the same thing! Landscaping and landscape architecture are vastly different services. In this post, we’ll walk you through 3 of the key differences between the two, and why we provide landscape architecture.

One of the first key differences between traditional landscaping or landscape design and landscape architecture is, most obviously, the size of the area or project and the different considerations that go into the project. For example, a project that involves a large group of buildings that are connected by streets would require a landscape architect, while just a yard or driveway would be a project for a landscape designer.

Landscape architects are trained to think of many different factors about a project at once, one of those of course being how to make areas look their best and be inviting, but also the weather of the area, how much traffic the area gets, whether that be car traffic, bike traffic or foot traffic. Landscape architects must think of the factors of each structure involved and how to use their resources to bring them together aesthetically. Landscape architects must also think about how the area that they are working on connects to the surrounding area. A landscape designer is given a small area of land and given the task to design the flora in that area to be attractive and inviting, or useful if their client wants!

That brings us to our second key difference, which is the type of clients each normally services. There aren’t many residential projects one might need a landscape architect for, because usually most of those aforementioned factors are not points of concern for privately owned land. The types of clients that usually benefit most from landscape architects are businesses, organizations, governmental systems or cities themselves, property owners of multi-residence buildings (like apartments or dorms) and schools.

There are others, but this list will help to explain one of the most important differences between landscape design and landscape architecture. We are a landscape architecture company, so those are the types of clients who would benefit the most from our help! For example, one of our long-term clients is Weber State University. We were hired by Weber state to rework their landscape architecture and irrigation system to help pull all the buildings on campus together and make a comfortable and welcoming environment to potential students, and we re-worked the irrigation system so that the school could focus more on the students and worry less about the landscape!

The final and arguably the main difference between landscape design and landscape architecture, aside from size and magnitude of projects, is about the purpose of the end goal. Often landscape design is focused on aesthetics only. How can we take an area and make it as beautiful as possible, which is a wonderful thing! However, landscape architects must focus on how to make their area as beautiful as possible, while also making it as useful as possible! Landscape architects, since they usually work on commercial projects have to think about the type of people who will benefit from their project, what types of people they might be, and design according to the majority’s needs, which can be very difficult but VERY rewarding. Every corner of a landscape architecture project must be optimized for success and usefulness.

Landscape design is a wonderful thing, and it can be incredibly important to making residential homes look and feel their best, however we thought that it was important to clear up that landscaping and landscape architecture are NOT the same thing! At McNeil, we hire incredible landscape architects who are ready to take on these large-scale projects with a smile. If you or someone you know is involved in a project that you think might benefit from these services, consider McNeil Engineering. If you’d like to learn more about landscape architecture, or you’d like to read about more of our landscape architecture projects, visit our website!

Landscape Architecture Projects | McNeil Engineering Salt Lake City, UT


McNeil’s different types of engineers

Engineer TypesAs our name, McNeil Engineering, suggests, we specialize in engineering and are proud to have a well-rounded staff of specialized engineers for all different types of projects. That being said, we realize that people in need of an engineer’s professional assistance for a project might not immediately understand what kind of engineer the best fit for the job would be!

Of course, any potential client of McNeil can always contact us for more information on what kinds of engineering services we offer. However, we also thought it might be useful to potential clients to understand a little bit more about a few types of engineering we have staff specializing in, what the differences are between them, and what type of projects each type may accompany best!

Of course, there is quite a bit of overlap between these specializations, but there are key differences that mean more than you might think! So, without further ado, read on for 3 different examples of special engineering that McNeal is proud to offer.

1. Civil Engineering

Let’s begin with civil engineering, because it is probably the most well-known and commonly used term out of this list! This is because “civil engineering” is often used as an umbrella term for any commercial engineering project that has to do with infrastructure. This is not entirely accurate, though it is based in truth. Civil engineers have their own specialized place in projects. So, what is that place, and what does a civil engineer do? Civil engineers have the incredibly important and sometimes daunting task of evaluating a construction project or plan in terms of how effective it will be in relation to the area surrounding it.

Civil engineering often has to do with transportation. For example, imagine a small coffee shop in a big city quickly gains popularity and has the means to open a new location. A civil engineer’s touch on the plan can make that coffee shop’s second location a step towards a booming franchise. In this scenario, it would be a civil engineer’s job to do research to optimize the location of the new shop by, say, a high commute traffic area where people might like to stop for a coffee before work? Also, a civil engineer would make sure that the location is optimized or everything important to a coffee shop, like Wi-Fi, water, and electrical reliability. This coffee shop example is just a small example to show what kinds of jobs civil engineers are responsible for. Often, they are tasked with much more pressing tasks like new roads, airports, housing and apartment complexes and much, much more.

2. Structural Engineering

Structural engineering does have a lot of overlap with civil engineering when it comes to what kinds of projects they can work on, however a structural engineer has an equally important but very different focus. While a civil engineer’s job is to optimize and plan a project like a building, for example, the structural engineer’s job is to make sure that building stays standing. Civil engineers are mostly involved in the planning stages of a project. Structural engineers are absolutely involved in the planning of projects because they are experts in planning a project to be structurally sound before construction even starts. Structural engineers are often sent plans for projects after they are mostly finished to be evaluated for potential structural issues. One of a structural engineer’s most important jobs, however, is to be present at a construction site to make sure that the construction is going to plan structurally to, again, make sure that once that building or structure goes up, it stays up.

3. BIM engineers

AT McNeil we are proud to employ skilled and trained BIM engineers. We truly believe that BIM is revolutionizing the infrastructure and engineering industries and we are so excited to have the latest in BIM technology. For the uninformed, BIM stands for “business information modeling” which is, basically, the process of digitally planning a project in full before beginning construction. This involves much more than just written planning. BIM engineers are experts in BIM software and can fully digitally model projects before ground is even broken. These #D models and plans can then be evaluation by either or preferably both the aforementioned types of engineers to make sure that a project is ready to begin construction. This process minimizes any mistakes made during the construction process. At McNeil we specialize in BIM because we want your project to go as smoothly as possible!

If you are part of a company or organization that is planning a project that could benefit from this kind of assistance, or if you are looking to learn more about our services, please contact us here:

McNeil Engineering Direct Contacts | Our Team of Engineers in SLC Utah

We hope now you understand a little better the differences between the types of engineers we employ!


Nature’s engineering feat

Nature’s engineering featAt McNeil Engineering we employ civil engineers who happily take on any kind of infrastructure construction idea or challenge they can. However, we might argue that bridges are a civil engineer’s bread and butter. Bridges are impressive feats of engineering, it takes an incredible amount of knowledge, research, and math to create a bridge between two landmasses that can not only hold itself up, but can maintain constant daily travel by cars, people, and any weather condition imaginable.

So many of the world’s most popular and breathtaking travel destinations are bridges, like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or the Tower Bridge in London, England. In Utah, we have famous bridges like the Hite Crossing Bridge, a beautiful steel structure peaking over the Colorado River that cuts through miles of rocky red desert that feels like another world.

However, like all wonderful structures humans have created, the earth created her version first. Built without hard hats or penciled equations, Utah is home to some of the most beautiful and impressive natural bridges in the world. Each period of time throughout humanity is marked with its prominent architectural style (modern, gothic), but the natural bridge represents architecture that transcends both time and humanity and serves as a wonderful example of structural engineering, and an elegant first-hand reference to modern engineers as to how a structure can truly stand the test of time. Natural bridges are one of the best ways to observe not only what makes a bridge sturdy but also how natural environmental occurrences can effect and erode a bridge!

So why are we at McNeil Engineering bringing you this information on natural bridges, other than the fact that they are very cool? The natural bridges at this incredible monument stand as a symbol for how the engineers on our team can learn from nature and use that learned information to expand infrastructure in a way that is beautiful, respectful to nature, and structurally sound.

Our three most famous natural bridges in Utah are all contained within the Natural Bridges National Monument in San Juan County. This national park includes the 13th largest natural bridge in the world, the Sipapu, which spans 255 feet. This information was actually discovered by laser scanning, which is a form of land surveying that uses laser beams to collect accurate measurements and information for landscapes and landmasses. At McNeil, we employ people who specialize in laser scanning so that we assist clients in surveying land and structures accurately. Also, we think laser scanning is a massive leap forward in learning more from the structure of nature.

We’ve talked a lot about how engineers can learn from nature, and how it can be an essential practice for all types of engineers. However, that definitely doesn’t mean we think structural, or landscape engineering experts should just copy nature’s homework. No, one of the amazing things about learning from nature is that we can see things we might want to do differently. Firstly, natural bridges are created by water flow over thousands of years, and if we want to get from one landmass to another, we don’t have time to wait that long, we instead have to build our own.

While we can learn so much from the height and angles of natural bridges and how certain leverage can make a large amount of rock seem to defy gravity, we can also see where the bridge has natural eroded that will eventually succumb to that gravitational pull, and we’ll unfortunately no longer have it anymore. Obviously, if hundreds or thousands of people are depending on a bridge for transportation in order to work or see their families, we can sit back and say, “oh won’t that be a bummer when it erodes and collapses.” Modern engineers can study the areas where these natural bridges erode and their materials to then create a bridge using all of nature’s wonderful inspiration that we can depend on forever.

Finally, natural bridges are a great symbol of the work we do at McNeil Engineering because of our commitment to landscape architecture. In case you’re unaware, landscape architects focus on both development of man-made structures and the protection of natural structures. It can be incredibly difficult to do any sort of construction, landscaping, or infrastructure growth project knowing the damaging environmental impact your project could make.

We truly believe that, at this point, maintaining what natural environmental structures we have left are essential, but we also know that growth is a natural part of humanity. So, at McNeil Engineering we specialize in building information modeling, laser scanning, and landscape architecture to be able to digitally plan building projects before ground is even broken so that we can plan to preserve as much of nature’s inherent structure as possible. We employ engineers who are prepared to tackle all kinds of projects armed with this mindset. And yes, that of course, includes bridges.


McNeil Engineering builds long-lasting client relationships

Client RelationshipsAt McNeil Engineering, we’re always in search of new projects, but we also like to make sure that our clients know that we are available to them after the completion of their first project. We like to build lasting relationships with the people and companies that hire us for any of our services, including structural engineering, civil engineering, landscape architecture, building information modeling, laser scanning, and roofing consultation.

A firm foundation of trust

A wonderful example of a landscaping architecture client we have a close relationship with is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We have been the prime consultant on new church constructions for the LDS Church all over the western United States. We built their trust by creating award-winning drought-tolerant designs for their churches in desert areas so that their members can see their home churches as comfortable and safe places to be. Because of this, they now continue to trust us to work on new designs for them, and we hope to continue to fulfill their engineering and consulting needs for a long time.

Helping craft first impressions

Another example of a long-term client is Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. We started our relationship with them by being contracted to help redesign the entrance to the Student Services Center, which is the first part of WSU that potential students encounter We created an open, welcoming design that gave students a glimpse of how comfortable and homey WSU could be, and the success that they could have there. Since then, we have been working with WSU throughout the years to redesign most of their campus to present themselves to students visibly as the wonderful university they are.

A partner you can trust

If you’re an architect or a developer, or if you own a business, we at MeNeil want to build a close professional relationship with you, because we believe that is the best way that we can help you make your structural and architectural plans come alive and have your building (or whatever structure we’re helping you with) help to present the intended message. We want to take whatever you have in mind and use our expertise to help make it safe, structurally sound, environmentally friendly, and beautiful.

At McNeil Engineering we also specialize in building information modeling, which means that we have the best technology to be able to help you plan and visualize your project before it is constructed. This helps to minimize having to make expensive corrections once construction has started. Building Information Modeling is one of the reasons we like to keep clients long-term because once you work on a project assisted by BIM, we think you’ll want to keep using it.

Getting to know each other

Of course, another reason we like to make ourselves available as long-term partners to our clients is that the longer we work with a client or corporation, the better we can understand them. The more projects we assist you with, the better we understand your goals, mission, and preferred aesthetic. And, as we get to know you better, you get to know us better as well, and we hope that makes you feel at ease and comfortable trusting us to help with your projects. Building professional relationships is important to us because we know how difficult it can be to get into the groove of working with someone new, especially when you’re passionate about the project at hand. Architects, we know your designs are like your children, and you would probably rather leave your child with a babysitter you know than a random one you found on Facebook!

Bringing your vision to life

Basically, if you’re in need of landscape architecture or civil and structural engineers for a project, we would like you to know that we’ll do our very best to help you bring your vision to life, whether you plan to only have us help with one project, or you plan to work with us indefinitely. However, we hope we can show you that if you have long-term design goals, we can absolutely be a long-term asset to each of them.

Ultimately, at McNeil Engineering, our clients are our top priority, and we want to be able to do the best work for them we possibly can. We want to be an asset in creating beautiful spaces and growing infrastructure in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, safe, structurally sound long-term, and respectful to the natural landscape. If that resonates with you, that already gives us a head-start on understanding each other, and we can only grow together from here.

If you’re interested in viewing some of the designs we’ve created for long-term clients, please feel free to check out the Landscape Architecture Projects page on our website here. We welcome your questions and inquiries.


Iconic green spaces to inspire your next project

Green SpaceGreen spaces have tons of positive effects. They’re known to improve mental health and stress to bring communities together and even increase consumer buying. Whether it’s a community center to college to an apartment complex, green spaces are critical for successful businesses. Our landscape architecture can help you create, design and install the best green space for your business.

But first, let’s take a look at all the benefits of green spaces and what defines them.

What are green spaces?

When we’re talking about green spaces, we mean more than just an unused plot of land or grassy knoll. Green spaces are deliberately designed and manicured spots that are open and free to the public. Think of things like local parks, gardens, playgrounds and fields.

These spots are meant to integrate the natural world with our urban environment. Since the first civilization, urban planners have inspired nature and incorporated natural elements into their designs. And since we developed modern cities, green spaces have become even more essential.

Why are green spaces so important?

Studies have shown that green spaces have numerous positive effects on mental well-being, physical health and even commerce.

Green spaces provide an opportunity for outdoor recreation and exercise. Some studies show that people who live near green spaces even live longer. A recent study from the World Health Organization found that 3.3{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} of global deaths resulted from lack of physical activity due to poor walkability and limited access to recreation areas.

These spaces spur better mental well-being and a sense of peace and even increase employee productivity or help hospital patients recover faster.

These spaces are essential to businesses, too. Studies have found that greenery and flowers attract shoppers and residents. Further, customers associate well-landscaped businesses with quality goods. Studies show they are willing to pay a 12 percent premium for goods purchased in retail establishments that are accompanied by quality landscaping.

So, now that you know their importance, it’s time to start thinking about cultivating your own green space. But if you need a bit of inspiration to get you started, check out these iconic green spaces that changed the way we do things. Even if you have a small space to work with, we think these projects will inspire you.

Atlanta BeltLine

Built on an old railroad track, the Atlanta Beltline is a 33-mile, multi-use trail that winds through Atlanta. It connects nearly 45 neighborhoods across the city.

The Beltline is an excellent spot for people looking to get back to nature, take a walk or go for a bike ride. But it also provides several other perks, like free exercise classes, parades, affordable housing and an arboretum. You can also view murals and other local art along the way.

Railroad Park, Birmingham, Al

Similarly, Birmingham has transformed its downtown into a 19-acre park. Previously, the land was used for a cross of old railroad tracks that went out of use. The land was transported into a downtown oasis (which can be especially essential in the humid Southern summers) that showcases the city’s history.

The park features more than 600 trees, multiple skate parks, and a history wall and sculptures, highlighting civil rights struggles and victories. It also features several sustainable elements, like a bio-filtration wetlands area.

The High Line, New York City
You may see a reoccurring theme of turning old industrial things into modern green spaces. The high line is no exception here. This above-street park is also formed along the lines of an old railway.

Previously, the space was home to elevated train tracks. But after a transportation freeze in 1980, the spot became abandoned. Decades later, neighborhood locals banded together to transform the track into a public space.

It features an array of native plants that function as a green roof with both plants and porous pathways absorbing water and limiting stormwater runoff. It also uses drip irrigation, composting and integrated pest management. It too features art, sculpture and vendors. This 395-acre space reopened as a park in 2009.

Chicago’s Lake Front

Chicago’s lakefront is unique to most cities for one straightforward reason. Written in the plans for the city is the idea that the lake will be forever “free and open” to the public. This means that no skyscraper, condo, or private business can build to the beach. Instead, the space from the major road to the water will forever be a public beach.

This is a relatively simple but revolutionary idea: keep public spaces public.

Another bonus is Chicago’s Millennium Park, situated between the beach and downtown. The land used to develop the park was initially deemed an “urban wasteland” and housed a winding spiral of train tracks. Now, it’s home to native plants, sculptures, walkways and water features. What’s even more remarkable is that some of it cover an underground parking garage.

So, are you ready to get started on a landscaping project?

Our landscape architects have decades of experience in both public and private realms. We can provide design and technical direction all the way from concept to construction phase services. We also work on a broad range of projects including everything from small roof gardens to university campuses, residential and commercial/retail developments and everything in between.

Visit our Landscape Architecture section for more details.


The Eiffel Tower: A 19th-century feat of structural engineering

If you’ve ever traveled to Paris, chances are good you’ve visited the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is still an impressive feat of engineering, even more than 130 years after its inauguration. But what you might not know about this landmark is that it became famous even before its opening.

Erected in 1889 on Champs de Mars in Paris for the Fourth World Exposition, this technical advancement became synonymous with the city of Paris, France at large, and what can happen when humans dream bigger than they have before. People, for centuries, had attempted to build structures taller than the Great Pyramid in Giza. It was thought impossible until the Eiffel Tower stood twice as tall as these ancient ruins.

A first of its kind

Fast forward to today. It’s the most visited monument in the world. Yes, you read that right! More than six million people make the trek to the Parisian park to see this amazing structure in all its glory. As a result, the tower, the subject of much debate and discussion during its planning and construction, is now among the world’s most prominent monuments.

You might ask yourself why this tower is so popular. While it is easy to understand its appeal, it’s perhaps more challenging to explain its modern appeal due to its novelty alone. Since its completion, we have erected structures that are larger in size and scope as a global society. Many experts will tell you that it’s more than the sum of its parts. In addition to its architectural prowess, the Eiffel Tower represents a masterpiece of imagination of human effort.

An engineering marvel

Let’s dive deeper. Eiffel’s design office required more than 5,000 drawings for the tower and its 18,038 elements. Builders used more than 7,000 tons of wrought iron connected by 2.5 million rivets.

Consider the complexities associated with horse-drawn carts transporting pre-assembled parts of the structure from the company workshop near Paris to the site. More than 100 workers came on the site to offer technical support, and another 300 in the workshop had a hand in fabrication and erection.

The construction started on January 28, 1887, and was completed in only two years on March 31, 1889. At its debut, the tower clocked in at 300.65 meters (986 feet). The tower’s base is square, 125 meters (410 feet) per side. In 1957, an antenna was added, bringing the total height to 320.75 meters (1,052 feet). In 2000, the tower’s height reached 324 meters (1,063 feet) upon the installation of another antenna.

A symbolic and practical structure

But beyond being an aesthetic force, it seems Gustave Eiffel was well aware of the implications of his architectural contributions.

“It would symbolize not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude,” Eiffel said.

Eiffel also took a pragmatic view of this project, encouraging multiple uses of the tower beyond mere entertainment. For instance, he was personally interested in using it to study wind forces and velocity as well as meteorological observations. On a related note, there’s no danger of the tower being damaged by high winds since it’s designed to withstand movements easily five times beyond those produced by the highest winds documented. Today, the movements are monitored by a system.

Another fact: The tower leans very slightly in bright sunlight, as one side is heated by the sun and expands slightly. Over the years, the tower has been used for transmitting radio signals and used more recently for television broadcasting.

More than a century later, the Eiffel Tower still takes our breath away. Why? The design in and of itself captivates the human spirit. Its elegant and slender form simultaneously evokes a feeling of strength and stability, almost a contradiction. This combination is a characteristic of the few truly great structures in the world, and the Eiffel Tower definitely warrants a spot at the top of this special list. As it straddles the past, present and future, we as structural engineers continue to be inspired by its magnitude.

Structural engineering is our bread and butter at McNeil Engineering. We may be biased but we believe the roles of structural engineering and structural engineers cannot be overstated in the 21st century. Ultimately, structural engineers help ensure that all the buildings and structures we see around are safe to use. Whether constructing a world-famous monument like the Eiffel Tower or a government building, safety is always at the front and center of our profession.

Feel free to reach out to us here for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project. (801) 225-7700


What you should know before remodeling your home

Mountain States Log HomesYour home is an important part of your life. Far from being “just a building,” your home represents a happy place where you can live, laugh, learn, and share with those you love. However, with time, the building itself begins to get out of shape.

Renovation offers an exciting opportunity to give new life to your house. This may be through doing something as simple as reinforcing a weakened foundation or something as complex as adding a new room to accommodate your growing family.

To achieve the best results when remodeling your home, there are certain things you need to put in place. In this post, we explore some of them.

  • Set a Realistic Budget

Every remodeling project comes with a budget constraint. Defining how much you’re willing to spend will help you know the extent of renovation that can take place. The last thing you want is to start a massive remodeling project only to get stuck midway due to finances. But that’s not all.

You also need to understand the complexity of the project you want to undergo and the projected timeline. Have an engineering contractor look over your plan so they can factor in unforeseen circumstances that may complicate the project cost and timeline. This ensures your final cost and time estimates are realistic.

Finally, you need to consider the financing options you have. Do you want to pay for it out-of-pocket or through a home equity loan or home refinancing?

  • Define What You Want to Do

Renovation is a huge umbrella that covers a wide range of activities. It may involve improving a broken, damaged, or outdated structure. Alternatively, it may involve making a new addition to a home.

Defining the scope of the project lets you know exactly how much it will cost and how long the project will take. What’s more, it defines the impact of the project you’re about to undertake and how it will affect the overall structural integrity of the building.

For instance, if you want to combine two rooms, you will have to break the wall separating them. Depending on whether the wall is a significant load-carrying member, you may have to replace it with a structural arch or bream so as not to compromise your home’s structural integrity.

  • Know Who You’re Hiring

While you might have a fanciful idea of what you want to accomplish with your renovation, only the experts can bring it to life. And as you would expect, the quality of the outcome is dependent on the skill level of the contractor you hire. That’s why you have to work only with the best.

Depending on what you want to do, you might require an architect to draw up a plan. For instance, you want an architect any time you’re changing the exterior of the building or making significant alterations to the floor plan of the house.

Most people settle for a general contractor, but you can also opt for individual contractors for the job. What’s important is that you find the right team to complete the renovation project.

Before you bring any civil engineering contractor on board – or any other professional for that matter – make sure you look into their license, certificate of insurance, lien history, certification, bond number, and financial standing.

But most importantly, you must hire one that understands your vision and is best aligned in helping you accomplish it. That’s why it’s helpful to have preliminary discussions or interviews before work begins officially. Also, make sure they will be forthright about all regulatory matters associated with your project: from building codes to inspections to permits to zoning.

You can find good engineering contractors through online services. Just make sure you research the company properly before working with them. Word-of-mouth recommendations from neighbors, friends, and family are also great ways to find reputable professionals.

  • Execute Your Plans

The professional uses their experience to draw up a final plan. Depending on the complexity of the project, the plan might need to be submitted to the authorities for approval. Once it is approved, execution can commence.

Expert engineering contractors usually take an iterative approach to project management. This enables them to make minor changes to the plan (if the need arises) without major cost implications.

If you’ve followed all the previous steps to the letter, this is the stage where you relax and let the experts do their thing.

Conclusion

An old English proverb says that “There’s no place like home.” So, it only makes sense to give your home proper care and attention – especially as it begins to age. Renovations provide a great way to accomplish that. By planning accordingly and working with the right professionals, you can transform your home into your “dream home.”

We look forward to helping with your next project. Contact us today for more information.


Best ways to integrate biodiversity with urban landscape design

Some might argue that urbanization is one of the best things that have happened to humankind. Of course, a large number of people living together in concentrated areas come with several benefits. Most notably, it provides the opportunity for more efficient use of resources.

However, urban center development significantly changes the natural landscape. Tall buildings and roads now replace tall trees and shrubs, consequently affecting the lives of several organisms that depend on them.

That’s why preserving biodiversity is a growing concern in urban landscape development. In this post, we explore ways to sustain a variety of plant and animal life in urban development.

Understand, protect and restore

In nature, plant and animal species are sustained in an intricate balance. Tweaking just a part of the ecosystem can have unintended consequences. That’s why it’s important to understand the ecosystem before any landscape design project commences.

A good way to do that is by observing the wild to see the connection between organisms. But more than just understanding, conscientious actions must be taken to protect the ecosystem. Design options with potentially detrimental effects should be avoided.

What’s more, areas that are already degraded should be examined to see if there are ways they can be restored.

Stick with native species – as much as possible.

In today’s day and age, the need to efficiently use resources is greater than ever. Because native species are better adapted to local environmental conditions, they generally require a lesser amount of resources for maintenance.

What’s more, introducing foreign plant and animal species might have better aesthetic appeal or even seem like a great idea. However, foreign species can sometimes disrupt the native ecosystem and pose threats.

That’s why caution should always be taken when incorporating non-native elements into landscape design because it can be difficult to anticipate future impacts.

Diversify

As the name suggests, diversity is at the very heart of biodiversity. You see, diversity allows for a more robust and resilient ecosystem. This, in turn, helps to minimize the impact of diseases and pests. What’s more, it adds better flavor to the design.

As a heuristic, when choosing plants for your design, you shouldn’t select more than 30{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} from the same family, 20{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} from the same species, and 20{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} from the same genus. And remember, diversity is not a leeway to introduce foreign species without proper analysis. You can still achieve diversity with native species.

Minimize light and noise pollution

With the lights from buildings, cars, street lights, buildings, and the noise from speakers, cities are constantly bustling with life. And many times, this can cause psychological stress for not only humans but also animals. For instance, nocturnal creatures will have to deal with lights and even the dangers of crossing the road at night.

Since the goal is to attract – and not repeal biodiverse wildlife – here are some things to consider in the design process. Keep lights away from resting spots like tall trees, ponds, and hedges. Protect certain areas so that they maintain their naturalness.

Provide wildlife corridors and connections between green spaces

Urban development affects the ability of wildlife to travel, find food, water, and even mate. That’s why it’s up to the landscape designer to incorporate options that will enable wildlife to thrive even with the change in the structure of their habitat.

Here are some ideas. Shrubbery or bush provides a physical barrier for people and large animals, but it allows smaller animals like hedgehogs to pass through, under, or along.

Soft engineering techniques can also be used to build wildlife corridors. Wild corridors are areas of habitat connecting wildlife populations separated by human activities or structures.

Cut back on lawns

Lawns seem like a great idea. At least, having a vast expanse of short grass can give the impression of “looking green”. However, lawns come with lots of drawbacks.

They consume a whole lot of water from irrigation. And because of their exposure, they offer little benefit to animal species. Hence, they are not a good choice if biodiversity is the goal. That’s why lawns should be limited to recreational areas as much as possible.

Use organic maintenance methods.

To support urban biodiversity, avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides because they can harm good bugs. For instance, bees are very sensitive to pesticides and fertilizers. And because they play a crucial role in the ecosystem, they mustn’t be killed indiscriminately. That’s why only organic maintenance methods should be employed.

Wrap Up

Because we share this planet with several other organisms, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure that we preserve local species and ecology. But if we refuse to do so, we would be harming ourselves in the long run because all life is inextricably linked.

This can easily become a nuanced topic with complexities – but we are here to help. Contact us here today. We look forward to hearing from you!