Structural Engineering

At WSP, we constantly push the boundaries to meet the high expectations of our clients. Our expertise allows architects to realize their aesthetic visions, while our clients meet their commercial and operational goals. We have a long history of innovation, as well as a reputation for imaginative thinking coupled with common sense solutions. The buildings we engineer perform well throughout their lifetime and make a positive contribution to society and the environment.

Creating the Highest Value

We add value to our projects by listening carefully to our clients in order to ensure that we align with their objectives and the needs of building occupants, in addition to delivering structures that are safe, sustainable and cost-effective. From the earliest design stages, we plan for the diverse uses of a project through its whole life-cycle, focusing on efficiency and economy. We seek to deliver flexible solutions able to adapt to future needs, while optimizing the building structure to maximize property value. 


Delivering Technical Excellence for Any Type of Building

With world-class engineering skills, technical back up and in-depth knowledge of current design standards, we deliver the best, most resilient and efficient structures for any type of building, anywhere in the world and in the most challenging conditions.

Our work includes assuring perfect acoustic performance for the concert hall at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, with a ‘box-in- box’ design to isolate the space from external sounds and vibrations. Other examples include overcoming challenging site conditions, heavy stone masonry and a heritage designation for a magnificent renovation of the Victoria Memorial Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada.


Overcoming Complex Structural Engineering Challenges

We regularly design structures on constrained inner-city sites with all of the associated challenges; for example, making use of existing basements and foundations, threading piles around underground services and infrastructure and working around underground rail tunnels. We provide commercial solutions to minimize the impact of wind on tall buildings through the innovative use of high strength concrete and steel and the intelligent use of acceleration damping. We also ensure the stability of buildings in challenging seismic conditions and, through our expertise in analyzing the potential impact of extreme events on structures such as bomb blasts, we develop strategies for effective mitigation measures.


Saving Time, Saving Money

We have driven advances in engineering and innovative techniques to streamline building construction, minimize costs and reduce commercial risks. We pioneered the method of top-down construction for The Shard in London, saving approximately four months on the program. The technique is now used in the majority of our high-rise projects. We helped accelerate the build time for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool through the use of modular design. Many of the structural components were manufactured off-site, and by using precast concrete panels on the perimeter to distribute the load to the foundations, we also enabled maximum flexibility of room layouts inside the hospital.


Sustainable Structures

Sustainability credentials of buildings are becoming increasingly important to our commercial clients by allowing them to deliver properties that are attractive to tenants and allow the flexibility to extend the useful life of a building for maximum return on investment. Our holistic approach takes into account the whole life-cycle of the building, from the earliest design stages through construction and operation to demolition.


During the design process we routinely seek to identify opportunities to reuse existing materials or incorporate recycled and/or locally sourced materials into structures. We use carbon and energy assessment tools to calculate the embodied carbon for all structural options, and we advise on ways to reduce construction waste through material selection and construction methods. For Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, WSP implemented an innovative on-site waste sorting system which resulted in 96% of waste being diverted from landfill (exceeding the target of 80%), while also reducing traffic movements for removal of waste from the site.


Structural Engineering for High-Rise Buildings

We are leaders in the structural design of high-rise buildings, with a portfolio of iconic towers including the World Trade Center, The Shard and Shanghai Tower. We are now delivering a new generation of super-slender high rise residential developments with buildings such as 432 Park Avenue, the exceptionally slim, 426m high residential, hotel and commercial tower in New York, currently the tallest residential building gracing city skylines in the western hemisphere. These slender buildings help developers make the most of limited real estate in urban areas and to capitalize on small and constricted sites to create highly desirable residences with magnificent views and high market values.


Our Structural Engineering Consultancy Services

We deliver all kinds of building projects from the earliest planning stages through to operation, in roles ranging from lead consultant to specialist services provider. Our core structural services include structural design, engineering for high wind and seismic environments, peer review and value engineering, forensic engineering and structural investigations, building renovations and alterations, blast resistant design, construction inspection, 3D visualization and BIM and steel detailing.


Enduring Relationships with the World’s Top Clients and Architects

WSP is proud to have built enduring relationships with some of the world’s top developers and signature architects, for whom we are delivering exciting and complex schemes across the globe. We apply our depth of international experience obtained over many years to the thinking process that precedes construction, providing valuable contributions from the outset to achieve our clients’ and architects’ aspirations, while responding to the constraints of the project and the local market.

Thanks to our integrated and flexible global structure, our clients benefit from close, long-term relationships with local delivery teams who understand the challenges they face, backed by a global network of specialists. This allows us to deliver the most innovative solutions to every project, along with the highest levels of experience, technical expertise and in-depth knowledge of local cultures, practices, standards and regulations.


Specialists in All Aspects of Structural Design

New Structures

At WSP, we get satisfaction from translating ideas to plans, and plans to bricks and mortar. We excel at creating buildings that inspire people to live, work, play or study to the fullest.

We believe that the knowledge and opinions of the entire multi-disciplinary design team should be incorporated into the design and that the entire team should help develop and commit to core solutions as the design progresses. Rather than following a cascading impact model, we believe major changes should be a group decision, taken in tandem with an open exploration of the needs and aspirations of the client and stakeholders.

We like to be involved at the early stages of the design. When we’re on board from the outset, we work efficiently, managing issues that affect the structure and working closely with the other design and construction team members to optimize building systems and, ultimately, make the design a success.

When designing a new structure, we balance the costs and benefits of innovation and flexibility with constructability, durability, environmental impact and user satisfaction. We consider every project on its own merits, selecting the structural system that best suits the situation. We take into account the community's present needs while anticipating future demands.

WSP's design services cover all phases of project delivery, including:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Design development
  • Production
  • Construction monitoring


Additions and Renovations

With addition and renovation projects, it’s as much about the impact of the design and construction process as it is about the final outcome. Our experience with the building lifecycle and all building components and systems allows us to minimize disruption to building users while optimizing budget and schedule.

As your go-to resource for structural work at existing buildings, we are:

  • Nimble enough to meet tight deadlines
  • Able to utilize a wide network of resources and expertise
  • Committed to quick project turnover – from one day to one week
  • Focused on projects with a construction value of up to $5M


Our experience includes:

  • Interior fit-outs
  • Seismic restraint
  • Feasibility evaluation for PV system addition
  • Ongoing additions and renovations
  • Retail design


Green Initiatives

Our engineers have experience with green initiatives such as wind turbine installations and feasibility studies for solar PV panels. We supported the University of Calgary’s team in its bid to design, build and operate a solar-powered house for the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C. Following the competition, the Cenovus Spo’pi Solar House was permanently located on the University of Calgary’s campus, where it is used for solar energy research.

We fully appreciate that today’s structures will have a profound effect on future generations. Constructing and operating buildings will consume about 40 per cent of the world's energy production, generate significant GHG emissions and use a major portion of the raw materials extracted globally every year.

Utilizing Carbon Run Down™, WSP’s own accounting tool, we are able to calculate and compare the carbon intensity of two or more different structural framing options for both concrete and steel buildings. As structural engineers, being able to choose materials with lower carbon content allows us to reduce our environmental impact.


Value Engineering and Peer Review

To ensure our clients achieve the highest value for their project dollars, we advocate a continuous process of value management throughout the consultant team. By constantly challenging the design, we seek to minimize or eliminate materials, components or processes that add to a building’s cost but do not contribute to performance, durability or aesthetics.

Essential to this is our internal peer review process, whereby a senior designer, independent of the project team, regularly reviews the work. This ensures that value management and quality assurance processes are applied at each stage of the project.

Owners and builders often rely on WSP to review their designs. The peer review process is invaluable in preventing errors and omissions, ensuring the design meets minimum building codes requirements, and confirming that all designs and details are complete. With decades of structural engineering experience, we are often able to recommend improvements to the design that result in a better, more economical building.


Security and Blast Design

As one of Canada’s most experienced structural engineering teams specializing in blast resistant design, we have carried out vulnerability assessments on some of the most important government buildings in Ottawa. WSP has also been engaged to design retrofit measures to mitigate the effects of blasts on buildings in Ottawa and abroad. These include a multi-storey government building, a large federal government building, a courthouse and various embassy buildings.

We are regularly invited to share our expertise on blast protection with the broader industry. We have presented papers on “Demystifying Blast Effects on Buildings” and “Retrofit with Blast Resistant Windows” at PROTECT Conferences around the globe.  We have taken a very active role in the development of the new CSA standard, S850-12, “Design and assessment of buildings subjected to blast.” Ashok Malhotra, a veteran structural engineer with extensive experience in blast resistant design, is a member of the Committee and Chair of the Sub-Committee for Building Envelope.  Being part of a global team enables us to access additional resources and industry leaders who have extensive experience working on projects such as Anti-Terror Force Protection with the U.S. military.


Structural Glass Design

WSP has partnered with internationally renowned architects to create dynamic and durable structural glass designs for a variety of buildings. We understand the challenges inherent in glass design and construction. Our objective is to balance structural performance and durability with constructability and future maintenance requirements.

The benefit of using structural glass is mostly aesthetic. Structural glass systems are so-called "frameless" systems that incorporate glass "fins" in place of traditional mullions. Using a system of metal castings or fittings to transfer loads to the adjacent structure, the glass fins are paired with glass "mainplates," which form the plane of the wall. The fittings and anchors are often counter-sunk into laminated glass, giving the exterior glass surface a planar appearance with limited views of the support structure.

Structural glass systems can be used for suspended glass walls, canopies, roofs and skylights. They can be comprised entirely of glass and small metal fittings, or they can be designed in conjunction with high tension steel rods, cables or tubes.