Q&A: What are some of the site/civil engineering challenges in Latin America?

One major challenge throughout Latin America is extensive earthwork on large land masses with poor soil conditions. Projects with hundreds and even thousands of acres are common, and typically involve the movement of millions of cubic meters of soil.

Intelligent site grading software provides significant savings in construction costs.

Intelligent site grading software helps decrease construction costs.

Grading design – often overlooked as a way to save millions on budget – is critical. Langan has successfully focused on earthwork management design to save millions of dollars at the onset of construction. Our approach combines the skills and experience of our engineers with the latest software applications to optimize grading for our clients.

Also, on large projects, we know that master planning goes hand in glove with master engineering – thinking about and considering infrastructure for the full build-out and future phases. Minimizing a project’s infrastructure investment in the initial construction phase helps bring it to life. That’s key because once a project becomes visible, further funding often becomes available.

Stabilizing/Reusing On-site Clay Oils

Clayey soils or steep slopes require ground improvement methods that strengthen the soil for long-term high performance.

Soil quality is also an issue. Much of LATAM (and especially undeveloped areas) is situated on clayey soils, steep slopes, or has seismic concerns such as liquefaction failures. Our geotechnical teams have extensive experience with ground improvement methods to strengthen the soil for long-term high performance. Our proven techniques shorten schedules from years to months. This saves clients’ money, time, and long-term reconstruction headaches while positioning their project on premium infrastructure.

Answer provided by Eric Schwarz, PE, LEED AP
Eric specializes in site/civil land development engineering, hydraulics and hydrology, storm drainage, water distribution and sanitary sewerage conveyance design. During his 20 years at Langan, he has managed dozens of major projects throughout Latin America.

Q&A: What were the technical challenges of the Park ‘N Fly project?

We asked our site/civil project manager, Katherine Regina:

What were the technical challenges of the Park ‘N Fly project?

Langan has been involved with the project since 2011, when the site was a vacant lot adjacent to Park ‘N Fly’s existing facility. Initially, we provided site/civil, geotechnical and environmental engineering services directly to the owner. When Park ‘N Fly leased the site in 2013, Langan remained on as the lead engineering consultant. Since Park ‘N Fly is based in Atlanta, GA, we added our  project management services and served as the owners representative during the complex permitting and approval process, as well as during construction and project close-out.

Katherine Regina

Katherine Regina, Project Manager

The greatest technical challenges of this project included raising the site above flood elevations and designing for future settlement (as the site is over Bay Mud), implementing stormwater quality improvements, and coordinating the design team, which included architects, structural and mechanical engineers, landscape architects and contractors. We obtained the requisite approvals from the City’s Planning Commission, Design Review Board, Building Division, and Engineering departments. The design and approval process also involved a new deceleration lane on Produce Avenue and the relocation of PG&E gas mains, regulators and electric infrastructure. The project was a C.3 regulated project and was required to meet San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program guidelines by treating runoff for the entire site. This was a challenge due to the high ground water table, on-going flooding issues on and off-site, and shallow existing stormwater infrastructure that had tidal influence. The project implemented state-of-the-art linear bio-retention systems that were designed to capture and treat the required runoff volume as well as detain large storm events during high tide. Finally, our team was involved throughout the construction phase of the project and provided observation and testing services including foundation and utility installations.

Park 'N Fly

Park ‘N Fly, San Francisco International Airport

Overall, Langan’s project management and engineering design services were a critical part of assisting Park ‘N Fly in achieving their goal to expand parking and create an easier way for travelers to park at San Francisco International Airport.

In Case You Missed It: Healthy Buildings and Indoor Air Quality Webinar

Recently, Christopher Glenn of Langan Treadwell Rollo’s Oakland, CA office moderated a webinar, with panelists Jean Hansen, Sustainable Interiors Manager at HDR and Todd Arris, Senior Director of Development at Kilroy Realty, to discuss healthy building environments and indoor air quality.

Wind assisted riser completions at roof level

Wind assisted riser completions at roof level

Now more than ever, the building industry is making significant advancements in efficiency, sustainability, and technological innovations. Protecting indoor air quality from contaminants that may exist in the soils beneath buildings, as well as materials, furniture, and supplies, is critical to improving and maintaining a healthy work and living environment.

The panel discussion, sponsored by AGRION Global Network for Cleantech, Energy, and Corporate Sustainability, focused on the use of vapor mitigation systems (VMS) as a means of protection of indoor air quality for new development properties. Glenn observed that protection of indoor air quality from contaminants in soils and soil gas is increasingly important given the growing number of new developments on remediated or less than pristine land. Within the San Francisco Bay Area alone, new developments are transforming former industrial properties along the shoreline into new neighborhoods, such as Mission Bay, the site of several Langan environmental and geotechnical projects. Former military properties such as Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Treasure Island are also undergoing remediation and are poised for redevelopment. VMSs offer protection against vapor intrusion for new development on these brownfield sites or remediated properties.

VMS Portable Monitoring Equipment

VMS Portable Monitoring Equipment

A VMS typically consists of two components:

  1. A vapor barrier that is spray-applied beneath the building’s structural slab.
  2. A venting layer beneath the vapor barrier consisting of a permeable rock layer and perforated piping to capture and vent accumulated vapors from beneath the building to the atmosphere.

A VMS doesn’t have to be costly; by focusing on passively-powered and integrated systems, an ideal VMS design can be incorporated into the existing building design framework in a cost effective and sustainable manner. For example, wind turbines can provide passive but effective suction to transport accumulated vapors through the venting layer, or the venting layer and vapor membrane themselves can also serve as a capillary break and water vapor barrier, which is typically desired in new developments – even where a VMS is not required.

As indoor air quality becomes a focus of environmental health regulatory agencies, the building industry needs to continue to identify ways to protect the quality of indoor air and support healthy building.

Completed Membrane Installation

Completed Membrane Installation

What do you think? Have you encountered indoor air quality issues?


Christopher Glenn, PE, LEED GA



Q&A: What makes the Pier 70 project unique?

We asked our environmental expert, Dorinda Shipman, PG, CHG, ENV SP:

What makes the Pier 70 project unique?

Pier 70 is a historic area in San Francisco’s Potrero Point or “Dogpatch” neighborhood. Langan has been involved with this project site on the environmental side since 2007 when we conducted shoreline sampling at what is now Crane Cove Park. Being part of the brownfield redevelopment at Pier 70 is especially interesting given its rich history in west coast shipbuilding and repair. Pier 70 was formerly home to the Union Iron Works and Bethlehem Shipbuilding; currently, BAE continues ship repair in a portion of the property. Due to the decades of shipbuilding and industrial activity, our site investigation results included soil gas, soil, and groundwater characterization, as well as human health and ecological risk assessment. This played an important role in progressing redevelopment plans. We are currently preparing a remedial action work plan for the Crane Cove Park near the shore area.  Langan has also performed geotechnical field investigation and analysis for Forest City in the shoreline development area and for Orton Development in the Pier 70 historic core.

As a whole, the Pier 70 redevelopment project will add new elements to the community and further connect the Dogpatch neighborhood to the expanding southeast bayfront. The waterfront site will include new retail, residential, office, and green spaces, while the planned historic core will include the rehabilitation of several existing buildings that are part of the pier’s unique history. One of the unique features of the Pier 70 redevelopment plan is Crane Cove Park, which is adjacent to the Port of San Francisco’s active ship repair yard, and includes the preservation of two historic cranes and the historic ship building slip-way.  Crane Cove Park is also part of San Francisco’s emerging Blue Greenway open space network that is providing connections to the waterfront from land and water along the southeast shoreline.   Overall, these planned features will revitalize this historic community and provide new focal points along San Francisco’s southern waterfront.

For more information about this project, visit the Port of San Francisco’s website by clicking here.

Q&A: How did the Langan team help keep the Levi’s Stadium project on schedule?

We asked the Principal-in-Charge of Levi’s Stadium and our geotechnical/seismic expert, Ramin Golesorkhi, PhD, PE, GE:

How did the Langan team help keep the Levi’s Stadium project on schedule?

To help keep the project on schedule and address geotechnical issues quickly, our team interacted directly with the Turner/Devcon team. To accelerate the work, the site was divided into four quadrants and treated as individual projects. This approach was applied from the very beginning of the construction process with grading and the installation of piles, and continued until the project was complete.  For us, this meant four individual drilling and pile installation crews working simultaneously, which required significant preplanning and preparation between our engineers, Turner/Devcon, and Berkel & Company Contractors, Inc., the piling contactor.

Through strategic logistical planning and real-time quality assurance evaluation, potentially problematic pile observations were addressed before the end of a shift, and often before the pile installation was complete. Quickly mitigating field issues helped keep the project moving forward on its aggressive schedule during the early stages of construction. Additionally, through our collaborative efforts with Berkel, piles were installed in a sequence that generally maximized production rates.

Congratulations to the 49ers on their new home and all those who helped make it possible!



Langan project team members attended the Levi’s Stadium ribbon cutting ceremony on July 17.

Q&A: What makes the Salesforce Tower project interesting from an environmental perspective?

We asked our environmental project manager Peter Cusack:

What makes the Salesforce Tower project interesting from an environmental perspective?

Being part of the Salesfore TPeter Cusackower project team is an exciting opportunity for Langan and our environmental staff has been working with the owners, Boston Properties and Hines, from the early stages. We are actively providing a variety of services for this project, but the oversight during excavation proves to be the most interesting.  Excavation will be performed at two separate times.  In the fall of 2013, all the hazardous soil was excavated and disposed off-site, and the remaining non-hazardous contaminated soil will be removed in the coming months. As part of the shoring and excavation phase, load bearing elements (LBE) are currently being installed at the site and once that task is completed, the second round of excavation activities will begin. The unique excavation sequencing at the site has required constant communication between our environmental team and the contractor, Clark/Hathaway Dinwiddie, A Joint Venture, in order to keep the project on schedule.

In addition to excavation oversight, Langan prepared and submitted a Site Mitigation Plan, which was approved by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), completed soil and groundwater sampling, performed sampling and chemical analysis during soil handling and disposal activities, and provided project management services. Our environmental team will also prepare the required site closure report and submit to the SFDPH.  The closure report will include soil sample analytical results, all soil disposal manifests, a chronological summary of daily soil handling activities, and will request No Further Action in regards to the environmental issues for the site.

To learn more about this project and our environmental services, please contact Peter Cusack, Senior Associate, at pcusack@langan.com.

Chrin Interchange Transforms Lehigh Valley

mainIf anyone sees the potential for land better than a real estate developer, it’s a farmer. And few farmers possess the foresight of Charles Chrin. He acquired 800 acres of land in the Greater Lehigh Valley region decades ago, and since then has done a lot more than grow corn and soybeans.
Today the Chrin Companies (www.chrin.org) are a series of diverse organizations that include excavation, hauling, agriculture services, and landfill operations, as well as real estate development. Charles Chrin has been the driver behind these businesses, which have helped his community prosper, but no Chrin project is more ambitious than the nationally recognized Route 33/Main Street Interchange.
“This project had been a dream for 20 years, until Charlie Chrin decided to make it real,” said AnnMarie Vigilante, the Langan Associate and award-winning traffic engineer in Pennsylvania, who is leading this transformative project. “Charlie, the local officials, and PENNDOT have truly collaborated to plan and execute this massive highway interchange that is literally re-shaping the county, bringing jobs to the area, and greatly increasing real estate values for all stakeholders.”
Langan has become a trusted consultant on the “Chrin” Interchange, which is ideally located at the nexus of Route 33 and interstate highways 78 and 80. Vigilante and the Langan team provided a host of traffic and civil engineering services on the full diamond interchange, the Main Street bridge replacement, acceleration and deceleration lanes, drainage structure modifications, grading improvements, additional ramps, and signalization of two intersections.”
“This project has really become a partnership among everyone involved,” said Gregory Elko, Managing Principal, Langan. “We are proud to support the Chrin Companies and look forward to helping future vital development projects once the interchange is completed.”
Importantly, the four quadrants that surround the interchange are already becoming major hubs for industrial development, specifically warehouse/distribution centers and large retail projects. In fact, Porsche built a state-of-the-art 130,000-square-foot facility there in 2009 and a 100,000-square-foot distribution and warehouse center for Mondelez International is under construction. There will no doubt be similar projects, as developers and companies from around the world help fulfill the vision of Charles Chrin.
Check out our construction progress pictures of the nationally recognized Route 33/Main Street Interchange project.