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Your Joint Conference Site Scoop: Three Zoning Topics That Could Apply to Your Next Project

We are following up on our article in the Illinois School Board Journal Sept/October Issue “Navigating uncharted waters: School district facilities and local zoning,” with three zoning topics that continue to present challenges and further the zoning conversation in Illinois.

  • Zoning Compliance including Tree Preservation
    Municipal zoning ordinances sometimes include tree preservation requirements intended to protect forested areas. Requirements may include the replacement of existing trees, or mandatory preservation of mature trees. Working together, landscape architects and civil engineers can satisfy these requirements with creative solutions that also enhance the aesthetics, ecology and water quality on school sites.
  • Building Permit Applicability
    We share the concerns of many school districts regarding the scope and application of municipal zoning reviews. Some municipalities have adopted ordinances that include both zoning and building regulations.  Interpretations of what constitutes a “school building project,” versus an ancillary use on a school site may contribute to further confusion.  Legal counsel can offer valuable guidance to help districts maintain an appropriate level of autonomy and independence.
  • The Rise of Solar Power
    Solar energy systems are offering exciting options for sustainable power and are growing in popularity across school districts in Illinois. Opportunities to reduce operational costs and generate revenues are leading many districts to consider building mounted and at-grade solar arrays.  Many communities are not yet familiar with solar arrays, and these projects can face unique regulatory challenges.  Setting up meetings early can help prepare municipalities for your upcoming project and address any concerns.

What has your experience been like with the new Illinois zoning changes? Stop by booth #510 at the joint conference to share your thoughts.

Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. Welcomes Three New Team Members

Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA) is excited  to announce the addition of three new civil engineers to our team of consultants.

Angela Cascio is based in EEA’s Chicago office. She is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. Angela brings two years of industry experience and relocated from Albany, NY for her new role at EEA.

Laura Rosenbauer moved to Chicago in June after graduating from Smith College in Northhampton, MA. In addition to earning a degree in engineering science, Laura also holds a minor in landscape studies. Before joining EEA’s Chicago office, Laura was an intern at the Department of Buildings at Chicago City Hall.

Raj Kothakapu is working out of EEA’s headquarters in Grayslake, IL. At Purdue University, Raj studied civil engineering with a concentration in construction engineering. His previous experience working for an owner’s representative firm gives him a well-rounded perspective of site development engineering.

 

Meet Our Team: George Dreger, PE

Principal and Indiana-based Senior Project Manager
George Dreger is among EEA’s most well-traveled staff. A few years ago, following a series of weekend getaways to southern Indiana and the Greater Louisville area, he started to consider putting down some roots in the region when the timing was right.

This year, the timing was right. George, a partner at EEA, moved to Indiana and is expanding the firm’s reach into the state as a local on-the-ground resource for current and future projects.

During his 23 years at EEA, he has worn many hats, including the firm’s first technical director, and now, an Indiana-based Principal and senior project manager.

Why did you decide to make the move?
Our new home of Charlestown, IN is a beautiful area, with friendly people, and is a relatively easy drive to friends and relatives around Chicago, Louisville, Bowling Green, Lexington, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Dayton, Cincinnati, are all within a 115 radius- offering my wife and I a lot of opportunities for weekend travel.

What inspired you to choose Engineering as a career path?
I actually didn’t start my career in engineering. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in geology. I enjoyed how the subject examined how natural resources come together and what makes the earth work on a very large scale; however, by the time I graduated, the economy was tough, and there was a shortage of job opportunities in the field. I ended up going back to school and pursued a degree in civil engineering. Luckily for me, I was better suited as an engineer.  

What is your role at EEA?
At heart, I am an engineer’s engineer.  I gladly admit to being a “geek”, and still love to sink my teeth into a complicated design, problem or calculation. When the firm started growing about 15 years ago, I became the Technical Director. I maintained QA/QC, standardized our work, helped mentor our less experienced engineers. Our founder taught me the importance of mentoring our engineers to be well rounded site development consultants.

Eventually, I missed the regular contact with our clients, and returned to a project manager role.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love talking about our work.  It is gratifying when our team can help answer tough project questions and be a trusted source. Also, hearing positive feedback from clients about our less experienced team members is very rewards.

On a more personal note, EEA’s push to grow markets and branch out geographically has allowed me to be a part of the firm’s momentum.

What is your favorite EEA project to date?
A few years ago, Stevenson High School received a LEED platinum certification for an existing facility. I went to the celebration at the school and took a tour of the building and site.  During the tour, students described the LEED features and someone asked the student guide a LEED question they couldn’t answer.  I chimed in to help answer the question, and at that moment it felt good to be a part of the team that helped the school complete the project.

What do you like to do outside of EEA? (hobbies, etc.).
I am known as a beer snob in the office, and I brew my own beer. My wife and I also enjoy traveling and going to Europe every other year.

IASB Journal Taps Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. for School District Zoning Law Cover Story

Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. project manager Spencer Craig, PE authored a cover story for the September/October 2018 issue of the Illinois Association of School Boards’ IASB Journal. The article, “Navigating uncharted waters: School district facilities and local zoning,” examines the implications of school zoning law changes on the relationships between school districts and local governments.

Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. and Team Partners Receive Fourth Consecutive Award from Canstruction Chicago

The last can was carefully placed on top of our team’s 10-foot tall can art exhibition at 3:10 a.m. at this year’s Canstruction Chicago build night. Although the next morning many of us had sleepy eyes and multiple cups of coffee, our team at Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA), and our partners from FitzGerald, Power Construction, and ECS Midwest were excited the 5,050-can “CANthedral” finally came to life.

At this year’s ChicagoCAN charity cocktail event and awards reception, the “CANthedral” received the 2018 “Structural Ingenuity” award, marking our fourth consecutive team award, and third in that category.

Canstruction Chicago judges were asked to make the selection based on the sculpture that, “Pushes the limits of gravity and physics to turn a basic can of food into a structure that makes you say, “Wow, how did they do that?”

The can art exhibitions designed by 22 teams of Chicago-area architecture, engineering and construction professionals were on display at the Merchandise Mart for two weeks and were later donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Topping off 727 West Madison

727 West Madison is now the tallest building in the West Loop. The mixed-use and residential development now stands at its final height of 44 floors.

Last week, team members from EEA rode the construction elevator up 33 floors to attend a “topping off” party hosted by the project’s construction management team, Lendlease. EEA is the civil engineering consultant on the project and worked with the design team to provide stormwater management, ADA compliance, utility connections and permitting services.

When finished, the building designed by FitzGerald will have 492 units, 9,500 square feet of retail space, parking for 375 vehicles and multiple luxury amenities.

The project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2018.

4 Ways to Make School Campuses Safer with Traffic Engineering & Parking Solutions

The sound of the alarm clock on Monday morning starts the race for parents and students to make it out the door and begin their journey to school. Instead of waiting for a big yellow bus, private passenger vehicles are the leading means of transportation for elementary, junior high, and high school students. This new trend is creating traffic safety and congestion issues at many schools across the nation and here in Illinois.

Reduce Risk & Congestion
An intuitive and well-planned school campus can make other modes of transportation easier and safer, to help reduce the dependence on private vehicles.

  1. Consider Pedestrian and Bike Paths: Provide paths for walkers and bike riders to enter the school campus at protected locations that minimize conflict with cars or school bus traffic.  Add stalls for bike parking.
  2. Split up loading zones: Separate school bus loading areas from student drop-off areas. Preferably, each loading zone should be on opposite sides of the school building.
  3. Look at where students are loading: Student loading should be from the passenger side of the vehicle and designed to flow with afternoon dismissal queues from waiting parents.
  4. Increase on-site parking: Most schools have enough parking for their staff and some visitors, but heavily rely on street parking for students and special events. Overflow street parking slows the movement of traffic, decreases road visibility and causes traffic safety issues.

School Parking Needs and Illinois Zoning Laws
As mentioned in our post, Zoning Law for Illinois School Districts: Continuing Challenges and Opportunities, new schools or expansions at existing schools now come under municipal review and approvals. Many zoning codes are requiring more school parking. Although parking consultants can help schools attain a parking variance to reduce the number of required parking spaces, if overflow parking is a regular issue, adding on-site parking may still be required.

For more information about K-12 traffic and parking solutions, please contact EEA’s Director of Traffic Engineering, Steve Corcoran at scorcoran@eea-ltd.com.

Meet Our Team: Kara Beck, Landscape Designer

Kara Beck is a Landscape Designer at Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA). Kara works alongside EEA’s Director of Landscape Architecture and is based in our Chicago office.

Kara joined EEA in 2017 and supports the firm’s Landscape Architecture service offerings. While completing her bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture at Michigan State University, Kara gained horticultural experience working at Frederick Meijer Children’s Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Mt. Cuba Gardens in Barely Mill, Delaware. Since graduating, Kara has worked with clients to oversee the landscape construction process.

What inspired you to choose LA as a career path?
Playing softball initially sparked my interest in landscape architecture. When it was time to start thinking about a potential career path, I wanted to find a way stay connected to the sport I grew up playing for so many years. Luckily, my uncle, a landscape contractor business owner, set up an opportunity for me to job shadow a landscape architect who specialized in designing athletic field complexes. During my first year at Michigan State University, I learned about the other facets of landscape architecture beyond field design, all of which attracted me to the field.

What is your role at EEA?
As a landscape designer, I work closely with EEA’s Director of Landscape Architecture providing clients with everything from conceptual landscape designs, to preparing intricate design details for landscape construction.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When the sod is installed, it’s the first time you get to see the culmination of your landscape design come to life. All of the work creating concepts, sourcing plants, working with vendors, and preparing construction details come together to make something beautiful and functional.

What is your favorite EEA project to date?
The Lake Arlington improvements for the Arlington Heights Park District is my favorite project since joining the team. The project scope includes a new children’s sensory garden, native beach plantings, boardwalk, bike path improvements, and an ADA fishing pier/boat pier extension. Playing a role in the design of the sensory garden allowed me to call on my experience as an intern at the Frederick Meijer Children’s Garden. Selecting the plants, landscape elements, pavements, and other materials to create a sensory experience for the children that will visit the garden is very rewarding.

The Site Scoop: Tightening As-built Requirements

4 Things Design Team Partners Should know

Near the end of 2017, the City of Chicago Department of Water Management released a general memorandum announcing the enforcement of civil as-built drawing submittals, outlined in the 2016 Regulations for Sewer Construction and Stormwater Management.

The memorandum directly impacts our clients’ projects, and since its release, we’ve worked closely with city engineers to understand and navigate the new requirements.

After four months of leading clients through the new process, here are 4 things design team partners should know:

  1. It’s retroactive. Projects submitted for stormwater review in January of 2016 are subject to enforcement, including completed projects that have received a certificate of occupancy. In these cases, developers will need to hire a surveyor to go back and collect as-built information. Missing submittals could leave developers open to liability.
  2. It impacts contractors. On current and future projects, contractors will need surveyors to document stormwater facilities as they are installed to ensure they are being constructed in substantial compliance with the approved plans. Our civil engineering consultants will coordinate with contractors to ensure the appropriate information is obtained.
  3. There’s a 30-day window. Drawings are due 30-days after construction, and late submittals can result in fees for contractors and owners.
  4. There are efficiencies. Engaging our consultants to focus the surveyor’s attention on collecting the needed data and manage the submittal, greatly speeds up this process.

For more information about streamlining your submittal approach, contact our Chicago office at (312) 463-0551 or at info@eea-ltd.com.

EEA Receives Second Nomination for the Annual Chicago Commercial Real Estate Awards

Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA), is nominated for the second consecutive year as a “Consulting Engineer of the Year” finalist for the 30th Annual Chicago Commercial Real Estate Awards. Proceeds from the event benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

EEA’s civil engineering consultants received the nomination for their collaboration with design team partners and local agencies on the following commercial developments:

 

In 2016, proceeds from the awards program provided 3,600,000 meals to Chicagoans. Join EEA and other award finalists at the 30th Annual Chicago Commercial Real Estate Awards Reception on March 15, 2018.