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New Menlo School Design-Assist Gymnasium
Roils the Blood of Structural Engineers


Photography by Bernard Andre

We love designing gymnasiums...nothing quite like dramatic exposed structures common to gymnasium roofs to roil the blood of a structural engineer! We will watch the game but you can be sure that we are also looking upwards to admire or critique the roof structure in all but the most riveting games...the roofs at the new Menlo School gymnasiums are particularly dramatic as the roof trusses span longitudinally (parallel to the direction of play) for over one hundred feet. Hohbach-Lewin provided structural engineering design services for this new 50,000 square foot design assist collegiate-scale forum for athletic competition and assembly space at Menlo School in Atherton, CA.

This project proved to be an exemplary example of how efficiently, smoothly and quickly a very complex structure can be pulled together when the architect (Kevin Hart, San Francisco), the Engineer and the Contractor (Vance Brown with Bambacigno Steel) collaborate as a team. The team utilized 3D modeling software working in concert with TEKLA to eradicate all bugs long before steel erection began...always so much easier to fix a model than a steel girder projecting through a window!

The project included new outdoor space for middle school recreation framed by a wood stage for quiet play and a twenty five foot tall faceted gymnasium "ball" wall. The wall, economically built using shotcrete and single-sided formwork, encourages creative ball play and invented games. Inside, the court floors are set one story below grade so that spectators entering the lobby overlook both gymnasiums and descend, arena-style, onto the main bleachers, which seat 1,000 spectators. The project includes a wellness center, training facilities, classrooms, locker rooms and administrative offices.


Hohbach-Lewin Makes a Splash in Palo Alto




Hohbach-Lewin, Inc. continues to provide structural and civil engineering services for the expansion and renovation to the University Club, Palo Alto's venerable swim and tennis club.

The facility, originally constructed in the early 1960's, featured a structurally interesting heavy timber tie rod tension ring pyramid roof that needed to remain intact throughout the project.

Improvements included a new tennis pavilion, a modified banquet area, a new grill room and multiple ADA upgrades. The hilly site presented many civil engineering challenges - the final sewage conveyance solutions required incorporation of a sewage ejector pump to counter gravity flow through piping suspended by an access bridge across Matadero Creek (giving lie at least in this case to the old civil engineering adage regarding the direction of effluent flow!)

The project architect was Fergus Garber Group; Hallmark Construction was the General Contractor.



Stanford University's Cantor Art Center
Installs Richard Serra's Seminal Work: "Sequence"


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Thanks to a generous gift from the Fisher Foundation, Stanford University has been able to install renowned American minimalist sculptor Richard Serra's "Sequence", a contoured steel sculpture weighing in at a whopping 600,000 lbs. The piece is composed of a thirteen foot high, two inch thick plate steel configured in an interlocking "figure eight" pattern.

Hohbach-Lewin not only provided the design for the supporting concrete mat foundation but also provided the analysis required to demonstrate to the County of Santa Clara building department that the massive structure would be stable and would satisfactorily resist overturning effects when subjected to potential seismic accelerations. The piece appears, at times, to defy gravity. The stability of the overall piece results, in large part, on the opposing reactions from adjacent sheets oriented in the countervailing direction. Mr. Serra has remarked that he has in the past presented models of the sculpture to engineers who still insisted that the piece was unstable (hey, who you gonna believe...your own eyes or my calculations?!) Hohbach-Lewin had no such problems demonstrating the inherent stability and strength of the geometry of the interlocking pieces.

"The curvilinear walls slant, creating a vertiginous and disorienting experience for the visitor who traverses the interior." The Stanford installation is the first time the piece has been installed outdoors as it was originally conceived - this will allow the shadows and natural daylight to play off of the canted curvilinear walls.

The work was previously displayed at New York's Museum of Modern Art and subsequently was displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; it will remain at Stanford until it is presented to the inaugural collection in the expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2016. The piece was transported from Los Angles to Stanford via twelve extra wide flatbed trucks; this challenging installation of this massive scale required the expertise of among the very best San Francisco bay area riggers.

To experience "Sequence" it is necessary to enter the Cantor Art Museum to gain access to the North grounds. The Cantor Arts Center is open free of charge, Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5 pm (extended hours on Thursday).




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