If not a “return to normal” or the arrival of a “new normal”, 2021 brought another busy and record-setting year for Richard J. Driscoll, Consulting Engineer (RJDCE). The year was characterized by more regularity and fewer notable milestones. However, it set the stage for continued progress and perhaps some greater advancements in 2022.
The Year in Review
After a short lull at the beginning of the year, 2021 picked up where 2020 left off. Backlog from 2020 combined with a steady pace of new inquiries and projects eliminated the usual soft start to the year and shortened the cyclical respites that typically occur a few times per year. By the end of the year, new file openings and new project engagements increased by more than two-thirds. At the same time, the practice had to manage increasing costs, and constraints due to the availability of outside service providers, inflexible construction schedules and limited in-house resources.
On the basis of hours, RJDCE’s projects in 2021 have mostly consisted of assessments and forensic investigation of in-service structures, and design and construction phase services for new construction or building alterations, in roughly equal proportions. RJDCE’s new projects were sited in a variety of new and familiar locations within and beyond the greater Upper Valley/Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee and Lakes regions of New Hampshire, including, Boston, Massachusetts, Pittsburg, New Hampshire – the geographically large town, population 800, at the northern tip of the state – twice, and the same street in Killington Vermont, again, twice. Highlights of the year include:
- Providing conceptual design input for the foundation of a highly loaded testing apparatus;
- Consulting on excavation support within a congested industrial site;
- Consulting on the implications of basement excavation and excavation support near ground improvement columns on an urban site;
- Review of the design of a structural steel roof with reported excess deformation;
- Assessment of a private bridge for construction loads, including a crane weighing over 105,000 pounds;
- More than 20 assessments of wood and masonry, residential and commercial buildings to support buyer due diligence, evaluation the feasibility of potential alterations and the investigation of structural distress, foundation movement and moisture intrusion.
The year was associated with few large changes, but dozens of incremental changes. This may represent the beginning of a return to normal or the approach of a new normal. Either way, more changes are coming and when “normal” will arrive is anyone’s guess.
Out and About
As vaccines promised an end to the then almost year-long COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunities for non-essential travel returned. But it didn’t last. While RJDCE was not able to arrange as many one-and-one networking meetings, as hoped, the practice was represented at in-person events organized by the Structural Engineers of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire and Vermont sections of the American Society for Civil Engineerings (ASCE) and Upper Valley Young Professionals, as well as the online 2021 Structures Congress and a fall seminar organized by the National Council of Structural Engineering Association.
In addition, RJDCE principal, Richard J. Driscoll has been participating in the development committee for a new ASCE standard.
This holiday season, RJDCE is supporting charities related to COVID-19 impacts and the recent tornado outbreak in Kentucky and adjoining states, including the CDC Foundation, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Granite (NH) United Way, Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital and the American Red Cross. If you are so inclined you can find nonprofit organizations providing support for communities affected by the pandemic at Charity Navigator.
RJDCE wishes you a healthy, safe, and happy holiday season, and a peaceful and prosperous new year.