January 18, 2017

Moving Mountains in Pickens County

Aerial photo of Pickens County Commerce Park

Aerial photo taken by Davis & Floyd’s drone of Pickens County Commerce Park

Alliance Pickens and Pickens County selected Davis & Floyd as their civil engineer for the Pickens County Commerce Park, a 310-acre Class A industrial park. As part of this project, Davis & Floyd has worked with two Commerce Park occupants – JR Automation Technologies (Project Dallas) and era-contact Gmbh (Project Big Apple).

Davis & Floyd’s involvement with JR Automation Technologies’ $3.4 million expansion project includes permitting, survey, due diligence, and site design for their 50,000-square-foot facility with the potential to add 100,000 additional square footage for future expansion. The Michigan-based company provides automated equipment and services for industries including automotive, aerospace, medical, pharmaceutical, food processing, construction, and more.

For German-based era-contact Gmbh, a global manufacturing leader of electrical railway couplings, Davis & Floyd has been providing civil engineering services for their $3.6 million, 38,000-square-foot North American manufacturing headquarters with potential to add an additional 100,000 square feet.

For both era-contact Gmbh and JR Automation, the Davis & Floyd team collaborated with teams from Agracel, THS Constructors, and McMillan Pazdan Smith for the design build lease back projects.

Additionally, Davis & Floyd has designed and permitted site plans for rough grading of four other sites at the Commerce Park. Once these site plans are completed, we will be able to quickly evaluate industry-specific requests to determine if their facility will fit on one of the graded parcels. The rough grading of these four parcels will allow Alliance Pickens to market to the world “project ready” sites. In today’s economic development world, having project ready sites puts a community in front of many others trying to win jobs and investment.

November 23, 2016

Turkey Talk

Rendering of the Round House

The Round House at the Palmetto Shooting Complex has a second floor “Crow’s Nest” observation area overlooking the shooting stations. The building’s design draws inspiration from George Patton’s former hunting lodge located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Across the spectrum of our projects, there’s one that stands out this holiday season – and that’s our work for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). The organization was established in 1973 as a national nonprofit conservation and hunting organization. When they were founded, there were about 1.5 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of nearly 7 million turkeys.

Located in Edgefield County, South Carolina, the NWTF have experienced substantial growth over the years, becoming the largest employer in the county. They organize fundraisers, operate marketing and retail divisions, and conduct conservation and hunting education programs. The site also houses a museum!

It was in 2000 that the organization’s board decided to significantly expand operations. Davis & Floyd was awarded the project, which included the design of a 3-story, 30,000-square-foot business office addition; 2-story, 7,200-square-foot museum expansion; two warehouse additions; and additional 200-space parking area.

Putting aside our neighborly pride for the organization (and our many enthusiastic hunters and conservationists on staff), we were very aware of the challenges of such an increase in operational space. Civil design issues included addressing an increased volume of stormwater due to the 54,000 square feet of additional impervious surfaces and layout of 200 new parking spaces.

Structurally, we reinforced the concrete masonry unit as well as wooden studs, floor trusses, and roof trusses. Our mechanical engineer was challenged with providing HVAC to three floors – each floor with perimeter private offices and large core interior space with cubicles – therefore, a complete HVAC system was designed for each floor utilizing heat loss analyses due to each floor’s unique location and relationship to the other floors. Additionally, the museum’s HVAC design required special attention to maintain very limited variations in temperature and humidity. Our electrical design provided additional primary power to all expansion areas by upgrading and rerouting service lines.

The additions and expansions were completed and approved for occupancy in the spring of 2004. The staff now enjoys a spacious, modern, and energy-efficient work environment while supporters benefit from their expanded reach.

In 2014, Davis & Floyd returned to work on four interconnected projects for the Palmetto Shooting Complex: Road design and drainage, including space for RV parking complexes for events; entrance gate; new 8,600-square-foot maintenance building for the complex, which stores target machines and shooting clays as well as has room and charging capabilities for transportation carts and tractors; new 9,400-square-foot “Round House” for events that includes a gathering lobby, lounge area, bar, commercial kitchen, conference room, retail area, restrooms, and second-story observational area.

This year, we designed the layout and cabinetry for a new display area in the NWTF Museum, which highlights the history of the organization’s founding.

Interested in conservation work with NWTF? Read more here. Looking for a recipe to grill or smoke your wild turkey this year? They’ve got tips right here.

From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

November 11, 2016

Honoring Our Veterans

South Carolina Army National Guard clearing sand from Edisto Island's Palmetto Boulevard following Hurricane Matthew

South Carolina Army National Guard clearing sand from Edisto Island’s Palmetto Boulevard following Hurricane Matthew

At Davis & Floyd, we see our work as a civic service and honor those who give the utmost in service to our country – our veterans. As we spend today thanking our veterans for their service, 28 of which are Davis & Floyd employees, we wanted to share the story of one of them who exemplifies community and professional service.

When Hurricane Matthew rolled through South Carolina, we were on alert for infrastructure damage and flooding that would warrant a Davis & Floyd response. At the same time, certain South Carolinians were watching in a more official capacity once Governor Nikki Haley gave her State of Emergency declaration. One such respondent was US Army National Guard Capt. Chris Huber, PE and 1221st engineer clearance company commander.

Chris is based in our Columbia office and trains yearly for situations like this as part of the South Carolina Army National Guard.

“We have pre-set areas with a set mission tasking that we are to support in the event that they need help, however if another area is in need we can move to support other missions. As soon as a State of Emergency is declared we begin officially alerting the unit to possible activation, however during Hurricane season we pretty much just stay on alert,” Chris explains.

His unit was sent to Edisto Beach and assigned lead command, allowing him to request equipment to assist his team’s mission to clear roadways. The company’s wartime mission is to conduct route reconnaissance, minesweeping, minefield-clearing operations, and more. After the storm, the team used similar skills to clear the way using dump trucks, skid steers, and chain saws to make room for larger equipment to come in and continue recovery efforts.

Before Hurricane Matthew, Chris’s company was integral in October 2015’s flood response. They helped restore the City of Columbia’s drinking water supply.

“Being a company commander is like being a project manager on a bigger scale, you are responsible for everything that happens and fails to happen in your unit,” said Chris. “I also believe that being an engineer requires a great deal of attention to detail and that’s one thing the military is very big on.”

For Chris, Veterans Day is a day for reflection on experiences (good and bad) and friends made along the way.

“It is also a day to remember those who are no longer with us to celebrate how far our country has come and reminder that we are still at war and the fight continues every day. “

To Chris and our other veterans, we thank you for your service. We’re so grateful to have you working on behalf of not only Davis & Floyd, but South Carolina and the United States of America.

November 4, 2016

Students Build Bridges at the STEM Career Fair

STEM Career Fair

Sara Albritton, Davis & Floyd Staff Civil Engineer, assists two students with the Bridge Designer challenge (Photo – Kim McManus / SC Biz News)

Just the other week, over 2,000 students attended the Second Annual High School STEM Career Fair at the North Charleston Convention Center. STEM – which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – is integral in today’s classrooms as teachers prepare students for cutting-edge work in a variety of fields. Tens of thousands of new jobs in high-tech industries are announced every year in South Carolina with wages well above the average.

Davis & Floyd is one such employer and we’re always eager to inspire students who may be taking their first steps toward working with us one day in the future.

Casey Tompkins, our Talent Resource Manager, led the charge in talking to students about opportunities and challenges in the professional world of engineering, while Meri Thompson encouraged students to make personal connections with potential employers.

We spoke to many students interested in our work and engineering in general and many even participated in our unique, interactive contest – a challenge to build a bridge through a computer program called Bridge Designer. Clay Settle and Sara Albritton, engineers in our Charleston office, explained the challenge to students: They had to design a cost-effective bridge sturdy enough for a truck to make it across.

By choosing different elevations, configurations, piers, cables, materials, and trusses, students were able to configure different bridges at a variety of costs and see how their decisions would affect both functionality of the bridge and their theoretical project budget. A student from Cane Bay High School had the winning design by maximizing strength capacity of each structural component in order to deliver a bridge that worked while keeping the cost at a minimum.

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many bright minds, helping them connect the dots between what they’re learning in the classroom and the real-world opportunities that await them. We look forward to participating in next year’s STEM Career Fair and meeting more of our future hires!

Image of the winning bridge

The winning bridge

October 28, 2016

(Re)Building for Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters: Part 2

Market Street drainage

Market Street drainage

Last week, we wrote about how proper preparation and rehabilitation of structures go a long way to preventing loss of life and property in a natural disaster. In our half-century of work, we’ve engineered safe solutions for historic structures, large industrial-purpose buildings, towns and neighborhoods, and transportation needs. Yet each of these projects comes with different requirements and sets of best practices.

In particular, transportation planning and project execution are highly affected by weather events.

For example, when we work on bridges, we design for resiliency, accounting for the extreme conditions that are brought about by natural disasters such as flooding, impacts from debris, high winds, and earthquakes.

Transportation infrastructure and its ability to perform at its best is as much a need before and after as during natural disasters. As we saw during Hurricane Matthew’s evacuation of the South Carolina coast, the sudden increase in travel needs and potential for dangerous weather can be an instant game-changer after the call is made by the governor.

On our construction projects, we are in close contact with local and SCDOT representatives and in the event of incoming bad weather, all barrels, cones, and temporary signs that can be removed from the project are removed to avoid the risk of becoming projectiles in high winds. For projects on evacuation routes, we always are prepared to meet protocols, which include stabilizing sites and staging the project to allow for no lane reductions as well as seeing that all possible lanes of traffic are opened.

We also maintain 24-hour monitoring of all projects for the duration of the storm. After the storm, we assess the damage and make any emergency repairs that are needed to keep the roadway open. Once the evacuation is complete, permanent repairs are undertaken to the roadway.

In Charleston, low-lying areas frequently are prone to flooding, but our work on the city’s drainage system improved much of the recovery. The City Market area notoriously has been waterlogged in previous storms, but thanks to our work in progress, installation of drop shafts and a new tunnel 120 feet underground, many businesses avoided incoming water and were able to open the day after Hurricane Matthew passed – an improvement over years past. The next phase of the project being designed includes completing the drainage project and improvements to the streetscape.

Steve Kirk, the city’s senior engineering project manager, said the pump station ran for hours and pumped over 50 million gallons of stormwater in total. The project is still yet to be completed, but we’re so pleased at the early successes of the project and grateful that the City of Charleston had a quick and safe recovery.