A Tale Of Two Engineers
The relationship between the Structural Engineer of Record (EOR) and the Precast Specialty Engineer can be a unique one. The delegated design role of the precast engineer responsible structure impacts how this relationship will play out.
Typically, anything dealing with precast design is a Delegated Design through the general contractor (GC). Generally the owner has a contract with the GC and a separate contract with the design team. Contractually the precast specialty engineer answers to the GC but has a duty to perform the delegated design in accordance with the EOR’s overall building design. In the Design-Build world, single contracts with the owner are more common typically with the GC so both EOR and Precaster would be under the same contract. Design-Assist can be a mix of both of these where a precast engineer is brought on early as part of the design team to help develop their drawings and transitions to the typical delegated design once a GC is signed up on the project.
The type of building structure will influence the intensity of the relationship the EOR and precast engineer need to have to accomplish the design of the building. If, in example, the building is a large mix of building materials and the precast is simple, the complexity of the precast’s design may not have a large impact on the structure overall. Thus, impacting the EOR and Precast Engineer's professional relationship. If the building is total precast with the other building materials only comprising the sub-structure, the professional relationship will require more communication and understanding. Frequent communication is essential to meet all of the building requirements and structural needs.
When precast meets other building materials, a clear definition of who is responsible for designing what, is necessary to determine what the relevant demands are from that connection. This scope responsibility can change from project to project depending on where the material is being supplied and who is doing the work. This emphasizes the need to create clear and reasonable expectations from each other.
These factors will help outline who is ultimately responsible for what and can be used in the right way to help streamline the design and construction process. At the end of the day everyone will need input and help from the other to accomplish their design responsibilities. These factors make it extremely important for the EOR and precast engineer to trust each other while keeping the interests of the client at the forefront of every decision.