Award Winning Shoring Key to Success

In recognition for the successful collaboration and the innovative shoring design, this project was awarded the 2020 Scaffolding & Access Industry Association (SAIA) Shoring Project of the Year.

Originally built in 1962, Climate Pledge Arena (originally known as Key Arena) is located in the heart of the historic Queen Anne district of Seattle. To take advantage of its prime but densely populated location, the arena was built down into the ground, with a pavilion-like sloping roof that has become a staple of the Seattle skyline. As part of a $700 million remodel, the Seattle Center Arena would get entirely new facilities, meaning the entire interior structure of the arena would be demolished and rebuilt from the ground up. With the majority of the arena built underground, this meant the existing concrete retaining walls would no longer have the concrete floors to support them and would require soil anchors be installed for support. In order to install those new soil anchors, an 18,000 lb micro pile drilling machine had to be driven on the existing slabs. However, the drill rig was a load the slab was never designed to support.

Due to the rapid pace of construction, it was immediately clear that coordination and clear communication would be required for the project to succeed. DHC was met on site by scaffolding contractor Performance Contracting, Inc.,  as well as representatives of both the general contractor and the structural engineer (SEOR) for the structure. The site to be shored was walked extensively, with each party noting critical locations that either needed to be shored, to be left open for access, or obstructions that needed to be worked around. The area of highest concern was over the Event Level ramp. The SEOR made it clear the Main Concourse slab above the ramp need to be shored to support the drill rig. At the same time, the general contractor was adamant that the ramp had to stay open and unimpeded in order for construction to stay on schedule. With demolition well underway, the ramp saw a constant stream of dump trucks as material was moved out of the stadium. The scope was to design a shoring system that fully supported the upper slab while taking up no space on the floor below.

After exploring some initial options, it was eventually determined that the most feasible way to adequately support the Main Concourse slab while simultaneously leaving the ramp open would be to essentially build a “tunnel” in the shoring; the slab itself would be shored up using modular cuplok scaffolding, which would then be set onto large steel beams spanning the width of the access ramp. After confirming the type of drill rig that would be used, DHC performed a detailed moving load analysis of the drill rig to model the loading that would be applied to the shoring. This drastically reduced the load on any one shoring beam, allowing for the use of lighter, more easily erectable beams.

Due to the slab above the ramp dropping as the ramp descended, as well as the presence of concrete beams at awkward angles, the modular, flexible nature of cuplock scaffold was used to its fullest as the main support of the Main Concourse slab. To support the steel beams on either side of the ramp, RMD Kwikform Super Slims were used as vertical post shores. While originally designed for use in falsework and concrete wall pouring applications, the Super Slims had high axial capacity and DHC had experience in using them in shoring applications. By bracing them to each other, as well as anchoring them to concrete wall and ramp for stability, a stabile base for the shoring tunnel was created that took up less than a foot of width. Once fully installed, the tunnel shoring allowed for the tie back installation to successfully move forward without any hinderance to the demolition work.

Mark Palmatier, PE – Branch Manager – (425) 559-9775

Jasper Calcara, PE – President – (760) 436-9756

Chicago Office Opening


D.H. Charles Engineering, Inc. has a long-standing tradition of servicing clients in the State of Illinois since obtaining our IL SE license, and has developed close relationships with contractors, IDOT and CDOT OUC over the past twenty years working in the area.  Even though we’ve felt confident we could continue to meet the needs of our customers, as had been proven with the hundreds of projects completed, we knew a local presence would provide the extra level of support we wished to offer.  Therefore, after many years of looking for the right opportunity we are thrilled to announce the opening of our newest office in Chicago.

Andrew Schwarz, PE, SE, was born and raised in the Chicagoland area and continues to call the area home. He has over twenty years of experience in the structural and geotechnical engineering discipline, including starting out in the bridge design industry while also working in the building design industry.  For the last 10+ years, he has been working in the underground shoring and temporary works industry expanding his close relationships with contractors in the area.   Andy is excited to be joining the DHC team and looks forward to growing the Chicago and Midwest operations for the company while assisting the company nationwide.


The success of the Seattle, Portland and New York offices has proven that although our resources are now spread throughout the Country, we can effectively work as a team and can be depended upon to share our wealth of design experience and knowledge regardless of location.  Our customers have come to expect collaboration and support from all our team members in developing state of the art and cost-effective solutions for their construction engineering needs.


Andy and the entire DHC team look forward to servicing an expanded customer base and providing more on-site support to projects in the area.  Please contact any of our team members to discuss how we can be of assistance on your jobs or bids.

Andrew Schwarz, SE, PE – Branch Manager/Sr. Engineer – (872) 240-8033

Jasper Calcara, PE – President – (760) 436-9756

Luke Griffis, SE, PE – Vice President – (707) 537-8282


East Coast Office Opening


After successfully servicing clients on the East Coast for over 20 years, D.H. Charles Engineering, Inc. is excited to announce the opening of its newest office in New York City.  Although originally founded and headquartered on the West Coast, DHC has worked tirelessly to prove to its customers that regardless of location or time-zone, excellent service can be counted on day after day.  A culture of immediate response to all calls, and expert support by experienced engineers, has resulted in long and valued relationships with our national accounts.


Branch Manager and Sr. Design Engineer Chong Kim, P.E., has developed personal relationships with contractors throughout the greater NY, NJ and New England areas for over a decade.  His experience in design of complex excavation shoring systems, along with many other temporary works designs, made him an excellent fit for heading DHC’s expansion East.  He’s passionate about what he does, and brings innovative design ideas to his projects, with a positive and creative attitude.


New NY Bridge – Photo By: New York State Thruway Authority

The success of the recently opened Seattle office has proven that although DHC resources are now spread throughout the Country, they can effectively work as a team and be depended upon to share their wealth of design experience and knowledge regardless of location. Their customers have come to expect collaboration and support from all team members in developing state of the art and cost-effective solutions.

DHC looks forward to servicing an expanded customer base and providing more on-site support to projects in the area.  Please contact any of our team members  to discuss how we can be of assistance on your jobs or bids.

Chong Kim, PE – Branch Manager/Sr. Engineer – (914) 292-4337

Jasper Calcara, PE – President – (760) 436-9756

Luke Griffis, SE, PE – General Manager – (707) 537-8282


NCSEA – Award

DHC is proud to have been awarded the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations 2015 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award, for work on the Ballard Drive Bridge, in Seattle, WA.

Click here to read published article on the project.

The Ballard Drive Bridge is one of the many historic bascule bridges located in the Pacific Northwest.  The application of engineering design was necessary to overcome the challenges associated with providing access platforms and containment for blasting and repainting the structure, while allowing the bridge to perform its normal operations. These operations not only include supporting vehicular traffic, but raising 250 to 500 times a month to allow for vessels to pass under. The complex loading of this process presented extreme design challenges beyond that of a traditional horizontal platform. Such items included intense wind loading on the underside of the platform, stabilization during raising, analysis of all bridge framing from irregular loading, and counterweight restrictions.

Creativity of Structural Design/Complexity of Criteria or Unique Problems:

The structural design utilized a flexible Safespan platform to minimize the increased dead weight on the bridge as opposed to typical scaffold or other rigid suspended platforms. This was extremely important, as every pound of platform meant additional counterweight was necessary to balance the loading due to the limited capacity of the bridge’s original motors.  Precisely calculating the counterweight was extremely important for the analysis of all bridge members because the increased counterweight wanted to overload the bridge similar to having two sumo wrestlers on a child’s seesaw. However, although this light system meant less demand on the existing bridge, the flexibility allowed it to act as a sail in the wind during lifting events. To prevent the exposed face of the Safespan platform from slamming into the underside of the bridge under high winds as well as sliding under its own weight, a series of rigid anti-uplift and horizontal bracing members were installed to hold the deck firmly in place while strategically transferring the load into the stronger framing members. Horizontal and vertical suspension cables were also installed to allow the platform to shift orientation and eliminate any sag or sway of the deck toward the water. The creativity of this structural design was not only necessary to overcome the complex challenges of the dynamic system, but also allowed the general contractor to use existing/typical material and installation techniques, resulting in an efficient project execution.

Innovative Application of Existing Materials and Techniques:

Typical Safespan platforms consist of longitudinal wire rope cables supporting metal corrugated decking, intermediate wire rope tie up cables, and various attachment assemblies that are compatible with different bridge members.  All components in this design utilized existing Safespan assemblies with the exception of the rigid anti-uplift bracing. However, these members were devised out of scaffold tube and clamps, which are cheap and readily available.  This device was used to choke around existing bridge members and push tight against the decking to stop unwanted movement at the tie up cable locations. To further stabilize the platform, typical tie up cables were horizontally installed, giving resistance to sliding under gravity while the bridge was lifting.  The distinct quality of this design was its ability to take advantage of existing equipment without the use of specialty-prefabricated pieces, which can be both costly and time consuming to produce. D.H. Charles Engineering used all the parts and pieces available to construct multiple phasing models and employed a solution that was both technically sound and realistic for the contractor to install.

Ingenuity of Design for Efficient Use of Material and Labor:

Safespan provided the equipment for this platform; however, Purcell Paintings and Coatings performed the installation.  Although the design process was extremely extensive due to the complexity of the dynamic bridge structure, it was safely erected using typical installation procedures for horizontal Safespan platforms. The only caveat was that counterweight had to be added to the existing structure at each installation phase. However, this is a small price to pay when looking at the overall scope and ease of accessing such a complicated structure without impeding its functionality.

Exceeding Client/Owner’s Needs or Expectations:

Careful consideration and evaluation of all the potential risks, as well as close collaboration between the contractor, engineers and city representatives, were critical to the completion of this venture. The final product functioned perfectly throughout the duration of the project.  The entire system proved safe and stable, requiring very little modification or maintenance as the job proceeded. Even with rain on 70% of the workdays, there were no breeches of the containment system, and the job finished on schedule and within budget.  Given that some said a Safespan platform could not be successfully installed and function properly on this bridge under the dynamic conditions, the incredible success of the design proved to exceed the expectations of not only the client, but also the entire industry.

Suitability of the Structure for its Environment:

The nature of the project not only required complete containment of blasting operations for environmental purposes, but also demanded a fully functional bridge. Given both of these items were achieved, it is evident the design had an extremely low impact on the bridge and the surrounding environment. The structure came and went, leaving the bridge in better shape than before and with no signs of its existence.  This is the ideal result of a structure perfectly designed to fit its environment.








DHC Expands to Seattle Area

After much planning and the steady encouragement of many of our customers, DHC is proud to announce the opening of an office in the greater Seattle area.  With main branches in Santa Rosa & San Diego, and satellite offices in Oakland & Sacramento, the Seattle location becomes the 5th for DHC.

This new office is being managed by John Meissner, PE, who is a native of the Pacific Northwest and is excited about the opportunity to meet with many customers personally in coming months.

Even without local branches, DHC has maintained a tradition of effectively servicing contractors throughout the US and Canada, and has developed long-lasting relationships with many of them.  Nonetheless, we look forward to the opportunity to meet many new and existing customers in person, and plan to host various training programs and introductory meetings in the coming months and years.

If you would like to learn more about DHC, or to meet in person, please do not hesitate to contact John Meissner, President Jasper Calcara, or General Manager Luke Griffis.

Partial List of Engineering Services Provided:

  • Excavation Shoring/Safety
  • Tunneling and Boring
  • Scaffold Structures
  • Bridge Jacking and Support
  • Suspended Platforms
  • Crane and Rigging
  • False/Formwork
  • Structural Shoring
  • Re-shore
  • Fall Protection
  • Rebar Cage Stabilization
  • Containment Design





Industry Leader – Guest Lecturer – UCSD

D.H. Charles Engineering, Inc. (DHC) was invited to be a guest lecturer for roughly 120 graduating seniors of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Structural Engineering department.  With an established passion for educating the construction industry in engineering challenges and safety, DHC was more than happy to accept the invitation, and had the perfect candidate to send to the classroom.


Chong Kim, P.E., a senior engineer and alumni of the same program at UCSD, has worked on thousands of construction engineering designs throughout the US and Canada in his career at DHC.  He took that experience on a wide variety of projects, and developed a presentation titled Temporary Structures and Construction Engineering Industry, to present to students taking the SE140 course.

2015-05-07 10.03.39

SE140: Structures and Materials Laboratory, introduces students to real world challenges and applications of structure design, including: Problem formulation, concept design, configuration design, project management, team working, ethics, and human factors.  –UCSD Course Curriculum

The variety of situations and challenges faced on a construction site can be overwhelming, with many codes and design approaches never discussed at the University.  Therefore, the presentation narrowed the field of construction engineering and focused in on the following key areas:

  • Excavation Shoring
  • Construction Slopes
  • and Slope Stability Analysis
  • Tunneling and Boring
  • Scaffold Structures
  • Bridge Jacking and Support
  • Suspended Platforms
  • Crane and Rigging
  • False/Formwork
  • Structural Shoring
  • Re-shore
  • Fall Protection
  • Rebar Cage Stabilization

Most students do not have the real-world experiences that come with time and that are hard to find in text books, so it was important to illustrate each subject area with as much photographs, colorful anecdotes, and challenges that were faced on particular projects.

excavation shorint

It was important to Chong that he connected with the students on a personal level, as he could clearly recall sitting in their position all those years ago.  He focused on the challenges and fears all young professional faces when starting their first jobs, as well as how to evolve as the their careers take them in different directions.  But most importantly, he wanted to exemplify how important it is to continue to take on challenges and overcome their professional and personal fears.  Presenting in front of peers was a first for Chong, and something he was very proud of accomplishing.

There were many insightful questions from students throughout the presentation, showing that they were truly interested in and engrossed with the subject matter.  The open discussions covered many aspects of construction engineering, codes, loads, workplace environment, as well as general challenges facing engineers in today’s world.


Evoking passion for what we do as engineers is the most important thing an educator can do, and based on the enthusiasm and response of the students, we are hopeful we were able to accomplish this.  We want to extend a special thank you to Professor Lelli Van Den Einde, Ph.D. for bringing us into her classroom and organizing the guest lecturer opportunity, and wish the best of luck to the class of 2016!


SSPC – George Campbell Award

DHC is proud to have been awarded the Society of Protective Coating’s (SSPC) George Campbell Award, for work on the Fremont Bridge, in Seattle, WA.  This honor is bestowed as recognition of outstanding achievement in the completion of a difficult or complex industrial or commercial coatings project.

In an attempt to paint a clear picture, imagine yourself working on the underside of a car in the median of a busy street.  In addition, assume you are constantly interrupted by someone jacking the back end ten feet off the ground.  To further complicate your task, suppose you are not resting comfortably on the ground, but suspended from the underside of the car itself.  Lastly, and most importantly, let’s envision that the car is not your own, but in fact is a historic 1965 Shelby GT350 in mint condition.  If you are able to put yourself in this scene, you may start to grasp the level of pressure put on the team approaching the Fremont Bridge project.

The respected and experienced firm of Purcell Painting & Coatings was awarded the contract to access, enclose and paint the bridge while protecting the local environment and ensuring roadway and boat traffic would not be impacted.  The Fremont Bridge is a double-leaf bascule bridge spanning the Fremont Cut and connecting the Seattle neighborhoods of Fremont and Queen Anne.  It was opened to the public in 1917, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  According to WSDOT, due to low clearance, the bridge opens on average 35 times a day to allow for boat traffic.

After much planning and coordination, led by Sr. Engineer Josh Rubero, P.E. and President Jasper Calcara, P.E., D.H. Charles Engineering, Inc. developed and designed a lightweight Safespan suspended platform system which was capable of supporting workers and debris when the bridge was in use, while also remaining stable and secure when the bridge was raised throughout the day.  Raising the platform presented extreme challenges to the design team, as the suspended deck and bridge structure would be exposed to complex loading conditions not normally experienced by a traditional horizontal platform.  Intense wind loading on the underside of the platform, stabilization during raising, and very sensitive counterweight restrictions were only a few of the issues addressed throughout the design process.

With intimate involvement of WSDOT, the project was ultimately completed safely, on schedule, and to everyone’s extreme satisfaction.  Due to the historic significance of the Bridge, the vibrant, colorful and heavily populated neighborhoods it services (Fremont bills itself as the Center of the Known Universe), and the complex and unique challenges presented, DHC is proud to have been part of such a successful project.

-Josh Rubero, P.E.