Projects Highlight WSP Engineering Achievements

Five projects that showcase innovation and leadership were honored as Projects of the Year at the firm’s U.S. Awards & Recognition Program.

The winning projects included:
- The American Copper Buildings, New York City, for projects less than $3 million;
- Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Indoor Training Facility, Lexington, Virginia, for innovation;
- San Diego Central Courthouse, San Diego, for projects from $3 million to $15 million;
- Transportation Engineering Approaches to Climate Resiliency study, Washington, D.C., for sustainability; and
- Robinson Butane Cavern, Robinson, Illinois, for projects greater than $15 million.

The awards were presented at the Harvard Club in New York City on April 28.


The American Copper Buildings are connected at their base and lean towards each other for nearly 20 feet before a reversal of the sloping direction at the 27th floor.

American Copper Buildings

The American Copper Buildings features two connected high-rise residential towers along the East River in Manhattan.

Susan Erdelyi-Hamos led WSP’s structural engineering team for this challenging project, whose innovative mindset and creative design solutions made the building’s unique architectural vision possible.

Connected at the base, each tower lean towards the other until the 27th floor, where they begin to start leaning away. The two towers are connected between the 27th and 30th floors by a skybridge approximately 300 feet above ground that houses an amenity floor, an outdoor terrace, and a lap pool.

In addition to the distinctive geometry, the building is also the tallest copper-clad building in the world, which gives the building a unique patina that will transform to an entirely different color over the years.

VMI Indoor Training Facility

WSP provided mechanical and electrical design along with high performance analytics services for the new Indoor Gymnasium and Training Facility on the VMI campus. Larry Beam served as principal-in-charge for WSP.

The gymnasium was designed and constructed using a passive downdraft system. This natural ventilation system uses evaporative cooling and buoyancy to supply 100 percent outside air without the use of cooling and heating fans, thus reducing building energy usage and providing a healthier indoor environment.

The design is the first application of such a system in the Eastern U.S., and a central component of the project’s LEED Gold application. WSP designed the passive downdraft system through extensive calculations and computational fluid dynamics to prove the viability of the system.

WSP worked closely with VMI and HKS architects to design a one-of-a kind facility that has exceeded operational expectations.


The view from the rooftop of the San Diego Central Courthouse, which consolidates criminal, family and civil courts into one building. 

San Diego Central Courthouse

The San Diego Central Courthouse opened in June 2017, consolidating the County Courthouse, the Family Courthouse, and the Madge Bradley Courthouse in one 22-story downtown location with 71 courtrooms.

WSP provided mechanical-electrical-plumbing engineering, built ecology, and building technology system services for what is now the largest courthouse in California. Amanda Brownlee was the project manager.

The firm’s Built Ecology team conducted daylighting studies of the tower’s main lobby to study the effects of solar heat gain within the building, which helped guide the energy modeling process to better understand the level and duration of functional daylight illumination throughout various times of the year.

Designers were required to balance the courthouse’s security needs with factors such as cost, energy efficiency and comfort. One essential design element is the building’s striking glass-covered facade. The building was also designed to qualify for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating from U.S. Green Building Council.

©2017 WSP USA

WSP performed a climate resiliency study on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration.

Climate Resiliency Study

Transportation Engineering Approaches to Climate Resiliency is a pilot study co-managed by WSP. The program was commissioned by the Federal Highway Administration to develop approaches for incorporating the effects of extreme weather and climate change into the transportation infrastructure design process.

The project scope included engineering assessments that considered the economic, social and environmental value of transportation assets and life-cycle costs. The study included specific approaches for engineers to enhance climate resiliency, and an extensive public outreach program including presentations, technical conferences and articles in various publications.

Prior to this study, limited information on the topic was readily available to practitioners. Justin Lennon and Jake Keller managed the multidisciplinary effort, drawing many technical leaders from WSP offices across the country to conduct the study and prepare the final report, Synthesis of Approaches for Addressing Resilience in Project Development, for publication.


A drilling jumbo at work drilling in support of blasting the cavern excavation at the Robinson Butane Cavern.  

Robinson Butane Cavern

The Robinson Butane Cavern is one of the largest hard rock storage caverns in the world, with a capacity of 1.4 million barrels. The cavern enables the refinery to store excess butane produced throughout the summer, and provides a lower-risk alternative to transporting butane via pipeline and rail.

WSP provided engineering design, procurement and construction management for the cavern, located about 700 feet below the Marathon Petroleum Company’s refinery. Frank Jurica served as deputy project manager.

The project team collaborated with the client, local community, Illinois state leadership and regional WSP staff, and managed more than 90 subcontractors throughout construction. The project achieved an outstanding safety record, with zero recordable incidents, while improving mining productivity, enabling delivery of the project 11 months ahead of schedule and more than $4 million under budget.

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