Construction of UBC's Pacific Residence, the new 1,000-bed student residence and community space, has continued throughout the pandemic, with the support of Bush, Bohlman & Partners as structural engineers. P hoto : B ush , B ohlman & P artners .
Early in March 2020, Bush, Bohlman was in the middle of a large project at Vancouver International Airport, when work suddenly “ground to a complete halt.” While that project has started again, no new work is coming out of YVR right now, and that situation will probably remain, said White, “until travel fully comes back.” Since this could be many months if not a couple of years away, the company was lucky in also having a number of substantial post-secondary and hospital projects already on the go, several of which actually accelerated. “We haven’t suffered financially,” said White, “and I think our firm has adapted really well. For us the big challenge was right at the beginning. We had begun talking with our IT provider about how we could get our engineers and technicians working from home about a week before lockdown, but the lockdown forced us to move faster than we ever expected.” The firm ended up with a mix of solutions: their engineers would leave their computers on at work and “remote-in,” while the technicians, responsible for Revit 3D modelling, would bring their more powerful machines home. After about half a day of hiccups, mostly from traffic overload on the company’s physical server, “it’s been extremely smooth sailing ever since.” Bush, Bohlman’s design workflow also changed dramatically, and for the better. “It used to be that when we’d start on a new building, we’d physically print out the plans that the architect sent over,” said White, “and we’d overlay that with trace paper and draw out by hand our structural framing. The technician would then take that and start modelling. That’s not very convenient right now. We’ve moved instead to a