For the office of Richard J. Driscoll, Consulting Engineer (RJDCE), 2022 represented continuity, maintaining the steady pace and diversity of projects of 2021, but also saw modest progress on strategic objectives.
The Year in Review
As RJDCE was completing projects from late 2021, the 2022 construction season started quickly. The schedule coordination difficulties that have come to characterize the COVID-19 era in the architecture, engineering and construction industry continued to plague multiple projects. After a few months of an abnormally high proportion of proposals becoming projects and additional services being required for ongoing projects, the practice was severely overloaded. Despite contract labor recruitment efforts to assist with field work and drafting, the mounting backlog and difficulty scheduling outside service providers sharply limited the practice’s ability to meet the demand for services. As a result, a new approach to project selection was taken in which greater emphasis was placed on relationships with project stakeholders and the value RJDCE’s services could bring to a given project. In addition, greater focus was given to balancing types of projects in terms of practice area, phase of construction and deliverables required. Ultimately, RJDCE offered proposals for fewer new projects in 2022 than in 2021, but the projects accepted were typically larger and were better suited to RJDCE’s expertise.
While condition assessments and forensic investigations remained a substantial proportion of the year’s workload, more projects involved design and consulting compared to past years. 2022 project highlights include:
- Recommendations for rehabilitating and strengthening a retail building in Manchester, New Hampshire for a more demanding occupancy.
- Remedial design of an impaired timber frame and damaged foundation in a mixed-use building in Hartford, Vermont.
- Condition assessment and investigation of foundation movement at a hotel in Woodstock, Vermont.
- Consulting on excavation support challenges for an urban apartment building in Portland, Maine.
- Underpinning and protection wall design for installing an elevator in a Dartmouth College dormitory.
- Design of temporary support to stabilize a concrete parking deck in a historic mill building.
- Stabilization and underpinning an existing foundation wall to support the construction of an annex to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
In Other News
In the spring, RJDCE expanded its service area to include the State of Maine. RJDCE now offers services in seven states from Maine to Virginia plus the District of Columbia. Further service area expansions are may come in the new year.
With an increased number of design projects, RJDCE has invested in more sophisticated two-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software and began an initiative to organize detail libraries and improve CAD standards. In time, this will streamline to production of drawings.
While still not quite to pre-pandemic levels, in-person meetings and events have largely returned. RJDCE participated in in-person events organized by the New Hampshire and Vermont sections of the American Society for Civil Engineering (ASCE) and the Upper Valley Business Alliance as well as ASCE committee work sessions. In October, RJDCE was represented at the Deep Foundation Institute’s 47th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations in National Harbor, Maryland, reestablishing the practice’s presence in the Washington, DC area if only for a few days. In addition to presentations about novel foundation construction methods and projects from Washington, DC to Iraq and …the moon, the conference provided an opportunity for networking with other engineers, contractors and vendors in the foundation industry from New England to the mid-Atlantic, and beyond.