Structural Focus places a high value on mentoring young talent. Brendan Ramos, SE started working at Structural Focus as an intern in 2009. While working at Structural Focus over the past six and a half years, he has graduated from UCLA with an M.S. degree in Civil Engineering and obtained his P.E. and S.E. licenses. He’s also managed to make some time to get engaged and married, as well as remodeled his home. In concert with these personal and professional accomplishments, he has worked on high-profile projects in Playa Vista and more recently as the Project Engineer for The Masonic Temple in Glendale. Needless to say, Brendan Ramos is a talented Structural Engineer with a bright future.
What does Structural Design mean to you?
Structural Design it’s not just about the numbers. It’s using what we know about Structural Engineering and turning it into an art that is altogether aesthetically pleasing, safe, cost-effective and buildable.
My favorite project to date is the renovation of a historic building into creative space for a Fortune 500 company in Playa Vista. During the course of the project, I had some long nights at the office. I took on more responsibility. For the first time in my career, I attended coordination, design and construction meetings with the design team. It was a great experience to be involved in all aspects of the project from beginning to end; from coordination to design, seeing it through construction and now witnessing its success. It has turned into a great production and post-production space for the social media community of Los Angeles. I’m definitely proud of this project.
The very tight schedule on The Masonic Temple renovation project in Glendale has probably been my biggest challenge to date. We provided structural design to renovate a historic building into a multi-use space. The building is owned by Caruso Affiliated, Gensler is the architect, and CBRE Group, Inc. is the first tenant. It’s been a great learning experience; the project incorporates both existing building and new design, as well as multiple structural materials including steel and concrete. We’ve completed the full seismic retrofit, as well as the tenant improvement of the 5th through 8th floors, and currently, we are providing tenant improvement services for the other floors.
If I had to choose a dream client, it would probably be a high profile entertainment industry company. Their standards are higher and usually media projects involve unique structural design challenges that I probably wouldn’t encounter on other projects. I really enjoy the challenge.
For instance, I’m currently working on a very interesting, challenging and fun project in Santa Monica, Skydance. It is a “hybrid project” that consists of historic, new construction and a media/screening room. The building is a historic post office; we cannot touch the outside and the lobby. It is originally a one-story structure with a full basement; we are adding two additional floors, but we are limited by the floor and roof heights. We are adding a screening room in the basement which will require removing columns and deepening excavations, through this process we have to think about the spatial and acoustical needs of the client.
The Future of Structural Engineering
Structural Engineering is an art, it’s not just the knowledge of what to design for, but it’s also communication, knowing how to present the information to the client. One of the qualities that our firm emphasizes is the ability to effectively communicate with everyone on the team. In all stages of a project, our priorities include responsiveness and clear communication with the team and client (on top of providing excellent technical structural engineering services). It is hard to find those qualities in our industry. There are engineers that only focus on crunching numbers, but as computer software becomes more powerful, their communication skills will become more crucial. We need to know how to inform our clients of what the numbers really mean, and how the numbers will impact the decisions that need to be made.
What advice would you give structural engineering students?
Obviously, they should do well on engineering courses in order to understand the mechanics. Also, it is essential to work on their communication. More importantly, they should do what they love. As cliche as it sounds, it makes it easier to get the job done when you’re working on something that makes you happy.
Why Structural Focus?
I really enjoy the company atmosphere; I know everyone at the office, and their families. I get to work on creative, high-profile and challenging projects, and when I need guidance the open door policy allows me to consult my superiors. What more can I ask for?
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
Not many people know that I am very active in my community. As a mentor for the ACE Mentor Program, I’ve had the pleasure of working with different high schools in the area. It is very rewarding to see the kids I’ve tutored become responsible young adults on the road to achieving their dreams. I am also a council member at my church and I play the keyboard during our events.