INNOVATION January-February 2014

Vancouver Firm Pioneers First Project Calculator App for Architects and Engineers Structural engineers at the Vancouver firm Fast + Epp have developed CONCEPT, a free iPhone app that allows architects and engineers to calculate member depths and browse project

photos in an easy-to-navigate tool. Created in collaboration with app developers at Burnkit, the project was conceived by the firm’s internal ideas division, a group tasked with applying structural engineering concepts in other fields of endeavor. The plan for CONCEPT was to create a tool that could be used by both design professionals and the general public when assessing the feasibility of potential projects. Ian Boyle, P.Eng., Struct. Eng., Fast + Epp’s Senior Associate, says in the project start-up phase, they knew they wanted an app with simple technology that would potentially save users both design time and money in the long run. “Most of the questions we were getting in project start‐up meetings focused on the depths of beams, joists, and slabs,” explains Boyle. “Architects and their clients were trying to get a handle on the aesthetic implications of using wood, concrete, or steel structural solutions. We’ve created an app that answers most of those questions.” CONCEPT’s depth calculator uses typical span-to-depth ratios for common steel, concrete, and wood members. The user simply indicates if the information they’re inputting is a roof or floor, with the internal calculator determining an approximate depth. Ad- ditional information is provided to qualify the load assumptions and tributary areas. Users are also able to share search and calculation results by e-mailing them to coworkers and clients for discussion prior to the first design charrette. More information is available about the CONCEPT app project at

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