Excellence in Engineering

Needham DBS
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Structural engineers are responsible for designing, planning and overseeing construction projects, taking visions from conception to reality. Needham DBS is an award-winning structural engineering firm that excels in the execution of world-class projects for clients across industries.
Serving architects, contractors, developers, building owners and even manufacturers, Needham DBS has delivered spectacular results for clients in the aviation, education, energy, government, industrial and heavy industrial, office, recreation and retail sectors across North America and the Caribbean.

The firm offers numerous modeling packages and approaches to design, and clients have thus come to trust Needham DBS for its ability to deliver projects that optimize client operations regardless of the sector. The company offers solutions that are cost-effective and efficient, building relationships and structures that are meant to last.

The firm’s commitment to high-quality, efficient and cost-effective project delivery has been a trademark since it was first established. Needham DBS was established by Jeff Needham in Fort Wayne, Indiana and has since grown to include an office in Lenexa, Kansas.

Throughout the years, Needham DBS has maintained a leadership position in the industry, bringing exceptional standards of professionalism and expertise to projects. The firm has always been an early adopter of innovations like computer modeling and even developed early versions of three-dimensional modeling software.

Indeed, Needham DBS’ portfolio embodies countless examples of projects that demonstrate the firm’s capacity to deliver results. With projects like the award-winning LA-Z-BOY corporate office in Monroe, Michigan, which was named Outstanding Project of 2015 by the Construction Association of Michigan, there is no shortage of examples of the value the firm can deliver.

Taking the athletics and recreation sector, for instance, Needham DBS has proven it can be a heavy hitter in the big leagues. Not only did Needham DBS repurpose an old Jewish Synagogue, converting it for use into the South Bend Cubs’ Team Store, it was responsible for a training facility located in right field that required the firm’s creative approach to engineering. When a major pre-engineered building company backed out of a contract at that last minute due to delivery problems, Needham DBS stepped up to the plate and hit a home run on what was described as a “surprisingly complex” two-story hybrid building. Most importantly, the project was delivered in only eight weeks, in time for the 2015 ball season to kick off.

Another complex tilt-up design and detailing project in Needham DBS’ portfolio is Olathe West High School. Using Revit structural modeling for the BIM (Building Information Modeling) platform, the firm ensured coordination with the steel fabricator to deliver on the 172,000 square foot, three-story project that would eventually be home to classrooms, a gymnasium and the performing arts. Needham DBS used load-bearing concrete tilt-up panel wall systems to resist gravity and lateral shear forces with lateral shaft walls that provided lateral resistance. Insulated panels with a painted exterior surface or brick casts were used on the exterior. What made this project particularly complex was the fact that part of the project required panels to retain soil.

As a leader in design-build, what sets Needham DBS apart is its vertically integrated design and fabrication process. Clients can benefit from typical structural engineering design paired with complete shop drawing production of steel and concrete parts and CNC file creation. Referred to as concurrent design and detailing (CD2), this packaged service offering affords clients the advantage of accelerated and cost-effective production and construction timelines. Its focus includes structural engineering services and products such as structural steel, concrete, steel joists and deck and hybrid buildings.

Drawing on CD2 processes and its in-house capacities, Needham DBS can reduce costs and hasten delivery schedules that optimize project outcomes. The use of high-quality shop drawing and electronic files eliminates much of a project’s risk.

Beyond CD2, Needham DBS provides design build steel (DBS). More than just letters in its name, DBS provides the design-build contractor with a fixed price for the design and structural steel work on a project without the delays that are typical of the conventional approach to projects. DBS can support a variety of simple to very complex building types thanks to its specialization in the integration of pre-engineered buildings and products to create idea hybrid solutions where required. By combining the best attributes of conventional steel with the benefits of pre-engineered buildings, Needham DBS can optimize building systems through its engineered solutions.

The work completed for the North Battleford Energy Centre in Canada is a perfect example of Needham DBS’ DBS delivery method and how far the firm can go to deliver results. The 260-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant facility consisted of multiple interconnected structures of varying height that housed equipment like the facility’s gas turbine, 60-ton bridge crane, 10-ton under-hung crane, and 10- and 5-ton monorails. Here, Needham DBS executed in accordance with its vertically integrated DBS delivery model using 1200 tons of primary and secondary steel framing, insulated metal sandwich panel cladding system and conventional membrane roofing system to complete the project.

To deliver outstanding results and ensure client satisfaction on every project, Needham DBS leverages leading technology like BIM and the team’s decades of steel fabrication experience. In doing so, the company has become a premier provider of division five products, which is now being expanded to encompass division three concrete products as well.

BIM was also utilized on The Andersons project. Needham DBS was selected as Engineer of Record on the project after completing an office headquarters for the same architect, The Collective, Inc. Working with both the architect and the client, the firm delivered an expressive and open building design that integrated structural steel framing and bracing in the building’s architecture.

Once again, Needham DBS utilized the three-dimensional Revit structural model to integrate architecture, mechanical and electrical systems, and plumbing models to ensure coordination across the project, improving the project’s timeline and outcome.

Needham DBS offers proprietary structural steel products that are designed and fabricated by its in-house engineering staff and once a design is created, fixed prices can be determined by pricing through a select group of American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) certified steel fabricators. The firm essentially purchases open shop time to reduce costs and pass along these savings to its clients.

Needham DBS also has concrete products at its disposal, including proprietary designs as well as subcontractor supplied data. The process is very similar to the CD2 process with varying deliverables, given that much of the work is completed by the contractor at the project site.

Needham DBS’ reputation extends to the design, detail and specification of Steel Joint Institute (SJI) and Steel Deck Institute (SDI) products. The firm is an authorized builder for American Buildings Company (ABC) products out of its Kansas City office and Varco Pruden Buildings (VP) products out of its Fort Wayne office. The long-standing relationships it has built with major suppliers have enabled the company to be recognized as an expert in developing proprietary SJI and SDI products and solutions, doing so in the interest of improved safety and efficiency.

Needham DBS is not only a leader in the delivery of outstanding project outcomes, it is a leader in the industry through involvement with various associations. Jeff Needham was one of the founding members of the Structural Engineers Association of Kansas and Missouri (SEAKM), in addition to being a charter member of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association.

The firm remains active on Tilt-Up Concrete Committee 551, the Structural Engineers Association of Indiana’s Board of Directors, as well as local building trade organizations Concrete Promotion Group in Kansas City and the Building Contractors Association in Fort Wayne.

In addition to advancing the industry, Needham DBS takes great effort to encourage the development of its people and internal capacities. There is a strong emphasis on continuous improvement through education which bolsters the firm’s capacity to perform to the highest of standards and its employees’ opportunities for career advancement. Employees are encouraged to develop their skills and professional capacities through continued education. The firm’s founder, Jeff Needham, attained academic success earning a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1980 while employed full-time, and for those who shared his eagerness to learn, he instituted tuition reimbursement programs for employees.

Engineers are encouraged to pursue studies in core subjects in the master’s level engineering curriculum in addition to undertaking continuing education units that are necessary to maintain their professional licenses. To date, six employees have earned their advanced degrees from the University of Kansas through this tuition reimbursement program.

In fact, a total of two-thirds of Needham DBS’ structural engineering team holds a master’s degree, which speaks volumes to the firm’s ability to perform for its clients and deliver project quality.

With a highly skilled team of professionals and a desire to deliver outstanding structural engineering solutions, Needham DBS has made its mark across industries and will continue to do so through its commitment to continuous improvement and project excellence.

With a reputation for quality, the firm has become recognized as a structural engineering specialist who, without a doubt, can bring projects to life by promoting cost-effective, efficient and impressive building concepts, designs and execution.



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