Federico Alba
Director General
Alba Proyecto Estructural
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View from the Top

Structural Engineering: Backbone of a Solid Project

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 17:31

Q: How has Guadalajara reacted to the vertical building trend that is becoming the rule in residential real estate?
A: The market is craving large residential developments built by experienced residential developers. In Guadalajara, developers such as TyA, DMI and Kiva build residential complexes comprising six or seven towers in which people happily invest. On the other hand, there are companies focused on other sectors that have land and capital then hire managers to become real estate developers. The residential segment has been good to us.
Q: How has the growth of residential real estate in Guadalajara impacted the demand for structural reviews?
A: The arrival or expansion of some companies has detonated demand in the segment in Guadalajara. For instance, Oracle is building its headquarters in the city, which has spurred Greystar, a property management company we work with, to demand at least two 600-unit residential buildings to meet the incoming need. We not only work with Greystar directly but also indirectly. For example, Torre Américas 1254 is a development where Alba Proyecto Estructural took part as an indirect supplier for Greystar. We supported the company that sold it this development. Other projects in which Alba Proyecto Estructural has collaborated with Greystar include the development of a 52-story building in Perisur and the review of the Santa Fe project in Mexico City. Alba Proyecto Estructural operates as a key ally for Greystar as we often carry out the structural design or review of its assets.
Q: What are the main difficulties that Alba Proyecto Estructural has encountered in structural engineering?
A: In terms of regulations for this activity, there are practically no differences between Mexico and other countries. However, there is usually more capital to be invested in adding daring features to a project in countries such as the US. Having a higher budget ceiling allows for the implementation of more features in a structure. Building developments that meet world-class safety standards while having a smaller budget is one of the most interesting and beautiful challenges that we face as a structural engineering firm. This challenge has prompted Alba Proyecto Estructural to establish its own costs department. We differentiate ourselves from other structural engineering companies in Mexico by involving our costs department in every decision we make as a strategy to ensure that the project we offer clients is developed within budget. We cannot allow ourselves to develop the project blindly and hope that it will meet the budget.
Q: What is the state of the renewal of Expo Guadalajara that Alba Proyecto Estructural is carrying out?
A: This is a very ambitious project. It has seven basement levels that equal 70ha of parking space and a hotel area. A world-class convention center that can hold 3,000 people like Expo Guadalajara will not only boost development but also become an icon for the city. One of the main challenges that we have faced with this project is the fact that our partner’s team wants to have large spans and strong cantilevers while the team within Expo Guadalajara wants the project to be economical. With this project, as well as others, the main goals for Alba Proyecto Estructural are to ensure the building is safe, that it meets the architect’s vision and that it is built according to the client’s budget. This project was awarded to Grupo Sordo Madaleno because of the broad vision it has in the construction business. While the firm has excellent architects, it also knows about branding, urban regeneration and other key topics.
Q: What are the main areas of opportunity for Mexican talent to effectively engage in structural engineering?
A: At an undergraduate level, Mexican universities are doing a great job in the development of talent but at a graduate level there are several gaps. We need more graduate programs in structural engineering. There is only one such program in the area of Guadalajara and it is offered by a private university that not every engineer can afford. Similarly, there are more programs in structural engineering offered in Mexico City, some by public universities, but not everybody can afford to move there to study.