Denver, Colorado is the largest city in Colorado. In search for gold, the first permanent settlement was established in 1858 with three towns: Auraria, Denver City, and Highland. The communities were united in 1860 and honored the Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver by naming the City of Denver.
As tourism grew and Denver’s economic base expanded in the 20th century, architecturally significant buildings started to be erected in Downtown Denver. Many buildings built from brick and red sandstone; these buildings still stand today.
As a modern-day structural engineer in Denver, it is important to understand the old construction techniques that raise structural issues over time. Many houses built throughout Denver sit upon stone and rubble foundations. These types of foundations are no longer allowed to be built, but the existing problem of sinking and cracking foundations still stands. As structural engineers we cannot replace failing stone foundations with new stone foundations, so we are driven to augment the existing foundation with new techniques or replace the foundation all together with typical concrete foundation construction.
Modern day structural engineers also rarely design full brick homes in Colorado although this technique can be used; many designers use timber as the main structural element for house framing and concrete as the foundation structural element for house foundations. The cost of materials and labor is more economical for timber construction at the small scale of a house. Many commercial buildings will use concrete masonry units for construction as these structures are usually much larger.
Residential structural engineering is unique to the field of engineering in Denver, Colorado. The structures that are designed are usually small and rigid. It is simpler for the structural engineer to envision the entire structure as a whole during the design process and design unique solutions such as interior shear walls to allow for large glass openings or structural garage floors to allow for multi-level garages. This allows the engineer to stretch their creative muscles along with the architect/designer and the contractor/builder to create truly unique houses in Denver and across Colorado.