What are the most common commercial roofing materials?

Roofing MaterialsSince the dawn of humanity, people have required something to cover their heads and protect them from inclement weather, falling rocks, branches and so on. In fact, finding or building a shelter was one of the first skills gained by the first humans, and the most important component of any shelter is the roof, the part that protects the inhabitants from the elements. As humans advanced and their shelters became as much an art form as a necessity, both houses and their roofs began to change as well.

The evolution of roofing construction and design can be traced as far back as 3000 B.C. when the Chinese employed the use of clay roof tiles. On the other side of the world, the Egyptians were also utilizing similar materials in their roofing and design. The Greeks and Romans would go on to use slate and tile roofing in their construction methods. Over time, practical and aesthetic needs would shape how roofs were designed and built. Let’s look at the most common commercial roofing types in use today.

What to Look for in Commercial Roofing

Ask any roofer, engineering firm or construction company what the most important factors are in a commercial roof, and they will tell you durability, energy efficiency and cost. If properly installed and maintained, a quality commercial roof should provide 10 years of life at the very minimum and up to 50 at the maximum. The reason why there is such a big disparity is because climate and sub-roof conditions will impact durability. The typical climate in Utah, for instance, will vary greatly from the climate in the upper Midwest. Location will certainly play a part in the aesthetic appeal and staying power in a commercial rooftop.

In the 21st-century, the big buzzword in rooftop design and installation has been “efficiency.” In fact, many cities and municipalities, including those here in Utah, have added energy efficiency parameters to their permitting process. Obviously, efficiency should be a factor for business owners as well since a more energy-efficient roof will result in a lower utility bill in the long run.

And then your final consideration will likely be cost. This is a factor that will largely depend on the type of roof you want. While some systems cost less to install, you may wind up sacrificing durability or efficiency for the sake of saving a few dollars. Just make sure your application is appropriate for the type of roof you choose.

There are quite a few different roofing types. We will list them all here and then spend a bit going into greater detail on each variety:

  • Metal roofing
  • BUR membrane
  • EPDM membrane
  • Thermoplastic PVC and TPO membrane
  • Silicon (spray-on)

Let’s dive into each type and have a look at the pros and cons of each kind.

1. Metal Roofing

This is probably the most common type of commercial roofing because it is highly durable and relatively inexpensive. Metal roofs are generally composed of galvanized steel, aluminum, tile sheets, copper or stainless steel (coated). Not only are metal roofs highly durable but they look good and have great fire ratings. They are more susceptible to corrosion, however.

2. BUR Membrane

Built-up roofing (BUR) membranes have a lifespan of around 20 years and are composed of alternating layers of tar and gravel. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to repair. As BUR rooftops age, however, they can be susceptible to leakage and breakdown.

3. EDPM Membrane

Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM) is a roll-based synthetic rubber. This type of roofing offers great weather resistance, is long-lasting, versatile and easy to install. On the downside, it is not the most aesthetically pleasing rooftop option and can easily be punctured.

4. Thermoplastic PVC and TPO Roof Membranes

TPO and PVC rooftops are very resistant to weather, UV rays and other adverse conditions. They are also lightweight, heat resistant and reflective. On the flip side, because of all these desirable properties, they can be more expensive. If you find options that seem too cheap to be true, they probably are.

5. Silicon (Spray-On)

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) is a material that begins as a liquid spray that instantly expands into a foam, which hardens into a solid layer. This type of roofing is generally applied as a second layer and is more eco-friendly than other varieties. It is also long-lasting but has a limited installation window and must be regularly inspected.

There are also a couple of other varieties, such as shingles and green roofing. Shingles are most used on residential buildings because they don’t have a long lifespan. Green roof systems consist of a waterproof membrane covered by plants. Green roofs are definitely “on trend” right now, as they look good, can be installed with local incentives and give your business sustainability cred. They do require quite a bit of maintenance and upkeep, however.

Are you getting ready for new construction and evaluating your roofing options? Or perhaps you are an existing business ready to upgrade? You know where to go. The roofing experts here at McNeil Engineering have got you – pun intended – covered.


What has McNeil Engineering been up to so far this year? Part II

Project HighlightsWelcome back to Part II in our blog series looking at what we’ve been up to this year. We recently came out with our spring 2022 newsletter and we wanted to highlight some of our proudest projects to illustrate the scope and scale of our work.

1. North Union Landscape Architecture

Our overall objective for the North Union apartments was to create a unique, urban environment for residents and the public that plays off the design of the building but also fits the area. The intersection of 900 East and 7220 South is very heavily trafficked and loud. However, it’s also a major crossing point for students from the nearby high school.

After visiting the site and analyzing the area, we wanted to create a design that allows us to buffer the plaza area and creates small, more intimate gathering spaces and seating areas to be enjoyed by residents and the public. With this in mind, we designed custom black powder-coated steel planters in distinctive shapes that will be planted with our water-wise plant palette.

We designed the complex’s roof deck to be functional for a variety of uses. Black steel planters and cast-in-place concert planters and seat walls, create private seating areas and social gathering spaces with BBQs and inviting spaces to hang out. Native plant material was used for low water usage and for a natural vibe that will be able to sustainable during the heat of summer.

Our design team worked with the developer and architect to include many amenities as possible in the project such as walking paths, interesting seating areas, a zen rooftop pool, and a dog park. Huge shoutout to Scott Schoonover, landscape architect manager on this project.

2. Post Malone Home

As more information is publicly released, we’re happy to share that we had the opportunity to work in-depth on Post Malone’s new home. It was an incredible project, read more below!

The original home was constructed in 1986. The existing construction was primarily of timber framing on a concrete foundation. The new owner wanted to convert the existing living space into a sound studio. The first task was to take out one elevation of the original seismic resisting exterior walls and extend the rear of the home by approximately 30 feet. The new exterior consisted of all glass with no walls so special seismic-resistant moment frames were used to resist the seismic forces. The original design of the structure’s interior had gravity resisting bearing walls. These walls were taken out and replaced with steel beams and steel posts.

The house was constructed on a hillside lot. On the uphill side of the lot, a new cast-in-place underground concrete basement area was designed with a concrete tunnel connecting the main existing house with the new basement. Several tall cantilever concrete walls were constructed on the site to extend the flat areas of the lot for the new construction of a pool house with a new pool. Also on the site is a two-story partially buried 12-car garage with a recreational deck as a roof. Being partially buried, the garage walls were as much as 2’-6” at the base.

McNeil Engineering performed the structural design for the approximately 3000 sq. ft pool house. Constructed of timber framing members and concrete walls, the structure was built on a mat slab foundation to help minimize differential settlement. The pool house has rooms for sleeping and entertaining, including a “man-cave,” which also stores the pool equipment. Some of the most interesting features of this structure are walls that rotate upward so as to give full, open-end access to the pool deck.

McNeil Engineering also performed the structural design for a two-story concrete garage. The rear wall of the garage retains the uphill soil and boulders to carve out a portion of the mountainside for storage and display of the client’s vehicles. A steel-framed second-story open rail mezzanine allows full views of the cars below (or at eye level) thanks to a multi-car lift in the garage. We have to give a shout-out to Matt Roblez, our structural engineer on the project!

We hope you have enjoyed this look back at some of our important and notable projects this year. We would like to end this series of blog posts with a note from our president:

As we approach the 40-year mark of being in business in Utah and the Intermountain Region, I know I speak for our entire team at McNeil Engineering when I say thank you! Reflecting on experiences over my 27 years at McNeil Engineering, it has been truly enriching. From a small team of engineers and a survey crew to the full-service firm that we have become today. We do not take that growth for granted and it wouldn’t be possible without our friends and colleagues. Please enjoy this Spring issue of our quarterly newsletter and know that we appreciate your business and your friendship. Here’s to many more years of working together to help make Utah great!

Mike Hoffman
President


What has McNeil Engineering been up to so far this year? Part I

McNeil Recent WorkWelcome to a look at some of our big jobs from the former part of 2022. We wanted to take a moment to highlight our recent work so you can get a better idea of our capabilities.

1. Larkin Cemetery

For more than 20 years our team has had a great relationship with the Larkin family and their incredible team at Larkin Mortuary. The scope of our work includes civil engineering projects, helping lay the foundation for their current headquarters as well as surveying their properties to prepare for future growth.

Led by Surveying Department Manager Mike Hoffman, our team has been involved in surveying and mapping both Larkin Cemetery locations using state-of-the-art technology to help them transition to a new cemetery management software system.

Through the use of drones and ultra-high-resolution cameras, our team was able to provide them with sophisticated imagery including a complete point cloud image of both locations. We sent both to Dan Cable and the team at EDA Land Planning, a firm acting as their go-to landscape architect overseeing our cemetery development.

This information allows their team to ensure accuracy and precision when taking inventory of their current land assets. Plus, it helps them plan for the future with confidence. We look forward to continuing to work with the team at Larkin Mortuary, it’s always a pleasure. Big thanks to Michael D. Hoffman for acting as survey manager on this important project!

2. Draper Innovation

No matter how many roofing or paving projects we manage, it’s never lost on our team how different each project is, and how important it is to keep a keen eye for small details to ensure that each project is successful and that their roofs and parking lots are built to last!

The Draper Innovation Center is no exception to that rule. Across a large lot, this multi-structure complex is an exciting new addition to the area that is nearing completion with one building finished and the other expected to be complete this summer.

As part of our responsibilities as the consultant and project manager our team reviewed plans and specifications for the owner and commented on what details needed to be revised and issues that could be avoided before construction started. We also reviewed material submittals and shop drawings to make sure they lined up with the plans and specifications and took our findings to preconstruction meetings for both buildings to review with the contractor while verifying his material submittals, shop drawings, and construction schedule. Throughout this process, our team worked closely with the general contractor to ensure that there were no conflicts with other trades.

For the duration of the project, our team observes the roofing production twice a week to make sure that the roof is being installed as per the plans and specifications and sends a report with photos to the owner. We also work with the roofing contractor on any field changes that need to be made. Once the project is finished our team will perform the final inspection with the manufacturer and send out a punch list to the roofing contractor with any final adjustments. As part of this process, we verify that owner receives the final warranty documentation. Big thanks to Carl Greene, consulting manager on the project.

3. North Union

In coordination with our very own Structural Engineering, Landscape Architecture, and Surveying departments, our Civil Engineering team had the pleasure of working on the exciting new North Union Apartments project! It really was a blast working in-house across so many departments and disciplines to bring this awesome complex to life which is now entering the final stages of construction.

The key responsibilities of our Civil Engineering team were fairly standard for this type of project as we coordinated with the architects to locate the building on-site and designed all new utility services.

The project was designed to meet city ordinances which are always changing, as well as the new state stormwater codes to recharge our aquifers during an increasingly difficult period of drought for our state! As part of the parking structure, surface improvements were designed to access two separate levels of parking to alleviate congestion at the parking garage entries which is an awesome and welcome change for future residents and helps avoid the traditional hang-up of trying to find somewhere to park at your apartment!

As we see the Draper area and really the entire Salt Lake Valley continues to grow, we’re excited to have a part in preparing the structures and laying the groundwork for future communities! Thank you to Robert Poirier, civil engineering manager on this project!

We hope you have enjoyed this look back at some of our big projects of the year (so far). Join us in our next blog post as we finish out our look at a couple more projects and feature an employee spotlight!


From then to now: A brief history of civil engineering

Engineering HistoryTo be honest, it’s difficult to exactly pinpoint in history when civil engineering became an acknowledged discipline. However, even when there was no name put to it, civil engineering was most certainly used to construct primitive structures. Early humans built basic structures and canoes to cross rivers, which was certainly done using early civil engineering methods. Once humans abandoned a nomadic existence and began to build, civil engineering was right there providing them with the skills and tools to do it. They just did not know at the time that thousands of years later, these very skills would one day be called “civil engineering.”

Civil engineering has been a fact of life since the dawn of the human era. You can go back over 4,000 years to see clear examples of civil engineering at work. Just look at what the ancient Egyptians were able to accomplish long before there were cranes and drones. In fact, one of the first documented engineers of the ancient era was Imhotep, who built the famous stepped pyramid for King Djoser. To this day, the stepped pyramid still stands.

Yet, the line was a bit blurred between architecture and civil engineering. It could be said that Imhotep was both architect and engineer. It was not until modern times that a clear distinction was made between architects and civil engineers. Throughout ancient history, most structural design and engineering were done by stonemasons and carpenters. The knowledge underpinning their methods was passed down through the generations and retained in guilds. Still, these early methods were not without problems. Ancient infrastructure was often quite repetitive and did not innovate quickly.

Civil Engineering During the 18th and 19th Centuries

It was not until the 18th century that the term “civil engineering” was coined. The first civil engineering school was opened in 1747 in France. It was called The National School of Bridges and Highways. The first self-proclaimed civil engineer was a man named John Smeaton. Smeaton would eventually form the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, who acted as leaders in the profession. And although this was more a social society than a technical group, the networking, and conversation that took place there influenced the design and construction of more than a few buildings of the 18th century.

It was not until 1818 in London that the world’s first engineering society was set up as the Institution of Civil Engineers. It was in 1828 that the Institution of Civil Engineers received a Royal Charter and formally recognized civil engineering as a profession. Here is what the charter said:

Civil engineering is the application of physical and scientific principles, and its history is intricately linked to advances in understanding of physics and mathematics throughout history. Because civil engineering is a wide ranging profession, including several separate specialized sub-disciplines, its history is linked to knowledge of structures, material science, geography, geology, soil, hydrology, environment, mechanics and other fields.

Civil Engineering in the Modern Era

Civil engineering involves the design, construction, and maintenance of roads, bridges and structures. The science of civil engineering includes everything from soil science to geology and other applied fields. As such, the history of civil engineering is closely intertwined with the advancement in associated sciences and disciplines.

In the United States, it wasn’t until 1819 that civil engineering was first taught as a discipline. It was at Norwich University that students could enroll in courses on applied civil engineering techniques, methodologies and designs.

The American Society of Civil Engineers was the first national engineering society in the United States. It was founded in 1852 with members related to the civil engineering profession located all over the world. Anyone could join and exists to this day as a great resource for civil engineers and associated workers.

Now, in the modern era, the number of universities in the world that include civil engineering as a discipline has increased tremendously during the 19th and the 20th centuries, indicating the importance of this discipline.

New Technologies in Civil Engineering

A number of new technologies have again transformed civil engineering in the modern era. From high-tech machinery and novel new materials to testing equipment, drones, and other sciences, the civil engineering of today looks quite different than it did even 50 years ago.

Yet, some technologies have had outsized impacts. Take computer-aided design as one example (CAD). CAD technologies allowed engineers to use technology to design better buildings, streamline processes and save time and money. From manufacturing to fabrication and erection, CAD and even CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) have transformed the way projects are designed and completed. Three-dimensional software, BIM technologies, and laser-scanning tools have also provided new ways for civil engineers to do their jobs. From efficient building designs to bridges and other huge, complex structures, modern technology allows construction to be done faster and with fewer errors.

And here at McNeil Engineering, we take pride in looking to these ancient designs for inspiration. While we rely on modern methods, we pay our respects to those who came before us! Thanks for joining us on this historical look back!


Top innovations in structural engineering

Structural EngineeringStructural engineers working today have access to some pretty incredible tools. Innovation in structural engineering is changing the way the practice gets done. From computer science to robotics and smart materials, structural engineering is changing. Recent innovations in the field are solving some big challenges facing the discipline. Some of these innovations are in the fields of safety, sustainability, and intricate structural design techniques. Let’s take a look at some of the top advances in structural engineering.

1. Modular Engineering

We are moving away from the days when building a home or commercial building required lots of manpower and traditional methodologies. Why? Because prefabricated building materials provide a number of advantages over traditional structures. Not only do prefab structures create less waste, but they also go up quicker and require far less manpower and complexity.

Generally, prefab modules are constructed off-site and then transported to the job site. Once there, they are unloaded and then assembled into a finished structure. This happens in a fraction of the amount of time it would take to assemble a structure the traditional way.

Modular engineering can also allow for better build quality. This may seem counterintuitive, but prefab OEMs are building each piece in a controlled environment with advanced tools and technologies. This allows them to harness the power of advanced materials and technologies to build better buildings.

2. Advanced Safety Technologies

The construction sector remains one of the most dangerous employment sectors in the United States. Whether it be due to heights, high-voltage cable, heavy machinery, or otherwise – these all represent safety risks for engineers and construction workers. Fortunately, new safety technologies are changing this paradigm.

One example is in the area of wearable devices, which can track workers and deliver real-time health and safety information. Smart backup systems and RFID tags can be used to detect workers who may be in the path of construction machinery. And virtual and augmented reality training programs provide new ways for engineers and construction workers to do their jobs.

Advanced safety technologies are also interoperable with more traditional safety systems and designs. From fences to body harnesses, helmets, gloves, and more – new safety technologies are designed to work seamlessly with legacy systems and materials.

3. Drone Technologies

It’s no secret that drones are being used to change the way a lot of industries work. And the construction sector is no exception. A growing number of construction and engineering firms now use drones to survey construction sites. But they use them for more than just surveying before, during, and after the building process.

Drone mapping services allow a highly detailed and accurate view of a job site. Drones can gather all types of information, from elevation levels to earthworks and building foundations. Drones can also be used to conduct structural inspections during and after the construction process is completed. Structural engineers can use drones for tasks that might be difficult for a human crew to perform.

Drones also free up workers for other tasks. Inspectors can use them to spot dangerous aspects of the job site, from the risk of exposure to toxic elements or instability in structures. Drones are no longer a surprise to construction professionals and engineers.

4. Digital Simulation Technologies

Digital engineering provides engineers with new ways to simulate job sites and structural designs. Digital engineering technology is more effective and allows for advanced prototyping of structures. Digital simulation tools allow structural engineers to simulate the structural integrity of a building before the first shovel hits the dirt.

Digital simulation tools of this type also allow engineers to keep aesthetics in mind even as they pay close attention to the structure’s potential structural integrity. The use of design software helps engineers identify the main structural members. In turn, they can use more detailed digital processing to assess the building’s final look and structural performance.

Simulation tools like these are becoming ever more important as buildings become more complex. Intricate structures built with novel new materials can be planned out digitally and evaluated with advanced simulation methods.

5. 3D Printing

If there is one technology that has upended the way many different industries build products and structures, it is 3D printing. Additive manufacturing, as it is called, can be used to build entire structures. Using 3D printing significantly reduces the amount of labor required on a project.

Additive manufacturing is also great for creating components that otherwise would be difficult to manufacture with traditional methods. Advanced 3D printing machines can build structures using all sorts of materials, from steel to composite materials. This kind of flexibility gives designers and engineers more flexibility in their designs.

Here at McNeil Engineering, we stand at the forefront of engineering technology and design. For more information on how we can help you with your next big project, get in touch with us today!


Utah is a great place to do business

Utah BusinessMcNeil Engineering has been proudly serving the Utah area for more than 30 years. We call this state home for many reasons, but the fact is, we love the Beehive State. Whether Salt Lake City-based businesses have needed civil engineering, structural engineering, land surveying, or landscape architectural services, we have been right here to provide them at a high level.

We have had no shortage of business for simply one reason: Businesses are relocating to Utah. Companies are building new facilities here in very high numbers. In many cases, these companies aren’t sure who to trust. They are new to the state and may be unsure who can do the job for them. And who do many of these companies trust to ensure the job gets done correctly in the end? McNeil Engineering.

Utah is a Beautiful State for Businesses

Utah used to be one of those little secret states. But in the past decade, the secret is out. Utah is not just one long expanse of open land. Beyond Utah residents, people have come to appreciate the charms and otherworldly beauty of our great state. Even now, many areas in Utah are still isolated and mind-blowing. It is a landscape ripe for exploration.

Consider the snow-capped mountains of the north. You also have access to the red-rock desert landscapes of southern Utah, where vast swaths of land are protected national parks and monuments. Utah’s terrain is hugely varied. You can go from mountainous forests to vast canyon lands without much distance traveled.

Inspiring, peculiar, and utterly beautiful, Utah has a kind of rugged beauty and outdoor adventure charm that will seduce any nature lover. Skiers from around the world are drawn to the Wasatch Mountain Range and the first-class ski resorts. Utah is also home to ancient rock formations, Native American history, fascinating dinosaur fossils and formations and charming mountain towns.

Other areas in Utah that include magnificent rock formations can be found at Arches and Canyonlands National Park. Expect to see soaring red rock formations at the cliffs of Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. The sunset-colored rocks in these national parks give Utah a unique and ethereal feel.

Utah is a Great Place to do Business

Why is Utah such a great place to do business? Well, we have a very friendly business climate. While Utah was originally dependent on farming and mining a century ago or more. As the land prospered, so did the people who lived and worked on it. Fast forward to 2022, and you’ll find that Utah has one of the most highly educated states in the country. Businesses come here because they know we live in a highly competitive environment for workers. Businesses that come from out of state know this.

In various measures, Utah outperforms other, similarly-sized states. And without a doubt, Utah outperforms other larger states. Indeed, many people have relocated from states like California to Utah, where the business climate is far more favorable. Utah, for instance, boasts one of the highest growths in non-farm payrolls and top-five GDP growth out of all 50 states over the past five years.

Utah cities also individually perform well. Not all the action is contained in Salt Lake City. Three Utah areas consistently perform well in the area of employment and revenue growth. The Provo-Orem and Salt Lake City areas rank highly. But the area around St. George is also growing and shows great potential.

From aerospace to IT and big software companies, some of the Beehive State’s leading industries are no longer built on land, but instead, rely on the brainpower and possibilities that exist in the digital realm. Utah has a business-friendly legislature that makes it well-known Utah is open for business. Combine that with a favorable property tax environment, and beautiful lands and Utah is simply the place to be for businesses!

How McNeil Engineering Supports Utah Businesses

Whether you’re starting a business in Utah or bringing one over, you might be building or occupying a building. Perhaps you would like to make structural or landscape architectural changes to ensure your building suits your company’s voice and design aesthetic. That’s where McNeil Engineering comes in.

Businesses in and out of Utah rely on McNeil Engineering to provide professional, experienced, and top-notch services that include civil engineering, structural engineering, landscape architecture, and consulting. Our vast portfolio of work demonstrates our commitment to getting the job done right.

Do you have civil or structural engineering needs? Do you want to revamp your landscape and create something more beautiful or suitable for the environment your business is in? Consider hiring McNeil Engineering. We do business with entities all over (and out of) the state. We have the experience built from time in business to ensure your project gets done correctly and on time. Visit our website to learn more: https://mcneilengineering.com


What is the difference between urban planning and urban design?

Urban PlanningHere at McNeil Engineering, we are proud of all of our projects that focus on urban planning and design. We often work with state municipalities on projects and developers working on designs that must be approved by cities or counties. We create concepts involving pedestrian, car, and public transportation needs. These mockups and designs are created to help get things approved quickly by a city. That’s what we’re good at.

A Closer Look at the Differences Between Urban Planning and Design

Still, there are big differences between urban planning and urban design. It is important for companies like us to understand these differences. This is how we deliver excellent service to our engineering clients. Let’s first examine the basic definitions.

  • Urban Design: The design and creation of certain city features, from green spaces to infrastructure, public transportation, landscape architecture, and community-use facilities.
  • Urban Planning: The planning of a city or municipality and the use of its structures, as well as policies, procedures, zoning, neighborhood planning, infrastructure, and overall standards and building codes.

Urban design is used to focus solely on designing individual city features. This could be a transportation system, city park, or wastewater treatment facility. Urban design is for those who want to do creative work. People who want to work on quality of life, population resilience, and sustainability will find a rewarding career as urban designers. Today’s urban planners often work within neighborhoods to create designs that benefit and inspire the community

Urban planners are more strategists. They need to evaluate factors that may not necessarily be in their control. From the technical endpoint to political considerations, urban planners need to have a real “big picture” view of what a neighborhood needs. One area where both urban designers and urban planners overlap is in the area of sustainability, long term resilience, and individual quality of life for residential and commercial land tenants

Core Skills Required for Urban Designers and Planners in Salt Lake City

Core skills necessary to work as an urban planner or designer are similar but also have distinct differences. Both designers and planners work on projects with similar outcomes, but their roles are quite different. Urban planners require great communication and negotiation skills. Urban designers need to have strong technical skills, but they also must be good communicators so that they can fully understand the end user’s experience.

Urban planners are generally passionate about the cities they live in. In general, planners will have a high degree of passion for what works and what doesn’t in their city. Urban planners have a good idea of what needs to be improved and what doesn’t. This could pertain to everything from green spaces to bike paths or affordable housing. But the passion displayed by urban planers goes beyond the urban landscape they reside in. Just like other residents of their town or city, they want to share in the growth and well-being of their neighborhood and enjoy utilizing their skills to meet that end.

Urban planners also generally have a strong sense of connectedness. They share a strong sense of collective values with those they live and work around. But even more, they take a look at the broader community as a whole. Urban planners generally want to live in a society that offers sustainable development, plenty of public transport options, and a stable housing market for buyers and sellers.

Urban designers, by contrast, are more technical in nature. You will find designers to be an interesting mix of individuals who are both people-centric and technologically-inclined. Excellent urban designers are very good at meeting the technical outcomes and requirements in a plans, while also also responding to the shifting needs of the contractors and neighborhood-dwellers.

Which Career is Right for You?

If you love improving society and making a positive impact on individual lives, then urban planning is for you. Urban planners also require skills obtained in many other professions, from teachers to project managers and environmental scientists. Urban planners are great communicators, effectively use evidence to support their arguments, are self-reflective and have great analytical skills.

Conversely, if you are passionate about upgrading the user experience and building on your technical skills, urban design is or you. Urban designers are very good at thinking organically and utilizing architectural and environmental design skills. They are driven by a strong set of core values, can imagine and visualize a plan, and are adept at translating abstract data into a vision.

Here at McNeil Engineering, we work with urban planners and designers day-in and day-out to ensure their jobs are completed quickly and by the numbers. Want to learn more about job opportunities here at McNeil? Simply follow this link, and thanks for reading!


What is the condition of your building’s roof?

McNeil RoofingIs the roof protecting your commercial building safe, in good condition and able to keep out the elements? Or does it need to be repaired or replaced?

At McNeil Engineering, we have answers to those important questions. We have a full-service roofing consulting team that specializes in Existing Roof Condition Analysis, New Roof System Designs and Construction Oversight, Design and Construction Oversight for Replacement of Existing Roof Systems, Roof Overbuild Design, Project Scoping and Opinion of Probable Costs and Humidity/Condensation Analysis. We can provide an objective third-party review of this critical aspect of your building’s structure and safety. We also can provide information and recommendations for the maintenance of your entire roofing system.

With spring officially here, it’s time to start making sure your commercial building is ready for the summer months ahead. A roofing consulting inspection can provide you with key insights that can help you avoid future damage, maintain a safe building and save money on maintenance and repair costs down the line. It’s especially important in areas of the country with four seasons.

Winter weather is hard on your roof

Cold winters — and the accompanying ice, snow and freezing temperatures — can be especially hard on roofs, both at home and at your business. Here’s how winter weather does its damage:

Snow. Wet snow is heavy and can put a significant amount of pressure and stress on your commercial building’s roof. If your roof isn’t in good condition, snow can cause a multitude of damage to the exterior and interior of your building. Wet snow that accumulates over doorways and windows can also cause the mortar or drywall to crack.

Wind. Winter winds are hard on shingles and other roofing materials. They can cause your roofing to erode, exposing insulation and allowing water and ice to seep into the cracks and into your building. If you have tall trees near your commercial building, wind can damage them, causing significant damage to nearby buildings. That’s why it’s such a great idea to regularly trim back trees near any types of buildings.

Ice. Ice is particularly problematic for roofs. When water gets into cracks and crevices in roofing, it may then re-freeze. When the water reaches its freezing point, it expands. That significant growth has the power to damage roofs, shatter pipes, harm HVAC equipment, weaken support beams, and even damage walls. However, damage can occur over time and this process often takes a period of months or years. That’s why it’s so important to have your commercial building’s roof and attic area inspected by a certified roofing consultant regularly.

The benefits of roofing consulting services from McNeil Engineering

Since 1984, McNeil Engineering has provided roof consulting services to a wide range of State and Local Municipalities, Property Management organizations, Hospitals, Religious Organizations, and School Districts. We’ve provided consulting, design, repair, and maintenance needs. We help educate our clients on preventive measures that can protect and fortify commercial roofs and buildings. Roofing consulting can help your business:

  • Protect employees
  • Catch problems early on
  • Understand which areas of your building need work
  • Lower your energy costs
  • Lower your emissions
  • Improve office air quality
  • And more.

Roofing consulting can help prepare your building for summer… and next winter

Taking action now to have your roof evaluated can help make sure your roof is in good condition, or if necessary, it can be repaired or replaced in a timely manner. Roofing consulting services are a common-sense way to improve not only safety and better manage future costs but to boost energy efficiency and your bottom line. The roofing consulting team at McNeil Engineering can help you do this via an existing roof condition analysis.

We’ll send one of our qualified, and knowledgeable roofing professionals out to your place of business. Using cutting-edge tools and technology, they will inspect the integrity of your roof from all aspects, making a thorough list of any and all issues that they find. Next, they will meet with you and explain their findings in detail. Once your meeting is over, you will have a number of common sense, applicable recommendations and instructions for adequately maintaining your commercial roofing system.

Schedule your roofing consulting appointment today

The sooner you have your commercial roof inspected this spring, the better. Your roof may be in great shape and need no repairs. If it does need some work, we’ll help guide you through the process of repairing or replacing it and maintaining it for the seasons and years ahead.

At McNeil Engineering, we provide comprehensive design services, including civil engineering, structural engineering, land surveying, high-definition scanning (HDS), landscape architecture and consulting to both the private and public sectors. We’re committed to being the premier engineering and surveying firm in the Salt Lake City area.


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!


3 buildings preserved in time by laser scanning

Laser ScanLaser scanning is a process that is becoming more widespread every day. Eventually, it will be used for so many aspects of our lives it will be like the camera, and we’ll wonder what we ever did without it. As laser scanning becomes more accessible, more uses for it are being discovered. Of course, laser scanning is an incredible tool for land and building surveying, but it has so many more amazing uses.

One of our favorite uses for laser surveying is historical preservation. So much artistic and creative expression goes into the architecture of buildings. So often, every aspect of a building tells a story, and each day that passes that story changes. The structure of a building speaks to the time it was built and the people who worked on it, and every crack, erosion, or vine of ivy that nestles into the building tells the story of the people who have been there, and the way the world has changed around it. Not only are these details interesting, they’re also important to notice so that we can understand our history better. That’s where laser scanning comes in. Laser scanning creates a three dimensional digital replica of a building in detail as it is in a precise moment in time, so that we can know what it looked like at that point for years to come. Lots of historical buildings are going through the process of being laser scanned, and we’d like to share a couple today!

1. Belsay Castle

This Medieval Greek revival castle in England was built in 1370 to serve as a home for a wealthy English family at the time, but has since served as a home to many different families and facilities. There have been many changes made to this building in its nearly 700 years of existence including quite a few add-ons and demolitions. Amazingly, most of what still stands of Belsay is its original three story story structure.

When it comes to understanding how people in history lived, it can be difficult to truly imagine them as real people until you step into their world, and stepping in to where they would have truly lived out their every day lives is one of the best ways to do that. Belsay castle is an incredible look into what everyday medieval life might have been like for the non-royal wealthy. Belsay castle has been laser scanned recently so that in another 700 no matter what’s left of Belsay, we can still learn from what it looks like now.

2. Canterbury Cathedral

Another amazing historical addition to the buildings that have been laser scanned is Canterbury Cathedral. Canterbury Cathedral serves as a breathtaking example of why it’s important to learn from what buildings look like right as they are in this time period, to the accuracy of laser scanning, because of its incredibly unique erosion. In case any of you were asleep in high school English during the reading of Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” the Canterbury Cathedral was a wildly popular destination for religious pilgrimages during the 14th century.

People from all over Europe would journey to the cathedral to pray next to the tomb of St. Thomas Beckett. For most modern people (Americans, especially, because our country is still quite young) to imagine this as anything other than a story until they see Canterbury Cathedral. Next to the famous tomb of St. Thomas Becket, there are two distinct, deep pockets of erosion in the stone floor where millions of knees have knelt in prayer. a Photo doesn’t quite do them justice, but recently, the building has been laser scanned, and a 3D model created. Because of laser scanning, even if someone never gets to make the pilgrimage to see Canterbury Cathedral, they can still understand its historical magnitude.

3. The Barrister Building

The last building we’ll talk about is one that is far more modern, and quite meaningful to us at McNeil, the Barrister Building in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The Barrister Building, formerly the Jefferson Hotel, was built in 1915, and if you’re a fan of classic films, you’ll probably recognize it. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, “Psycho,” contains some of the most famous and highly regarded sequences in film history. This, of course, includes the shower sequence that made strings the permanent instrument of choice when it comes to striking fear. This also includes the opening sequence, where an aerial shot of Phoenix brings the viewer right up close and personal to the Jefferson Hotel and in through a window, bringing the viewer into the intimate personal lives of the characters. Here at McNeil, we were lucky enough to have been commissioned to do the historical laser scan of the historic Barrister Building before its renovation after it was purchased in 2016. You can learn more about our work on the Barrister building here.