Complacency has no rightful place in a building market as active as multifamily residential has been for more than a decade – a major reason that Veitas & Veitas Engineers looks different and operates differently than it did just a few years ago.
“We realized the market was changing, and we knew we had to get in front of it,” says President Rimas Veitas, whose father Brutenis and uncle Romualdas founded the Braintree-based firm in 1964. “It’s a highly competitive market, and owners and developers are demanding faster, more cost-effective structural solutions, while the market itself is trending toward higher density. We recognized that the structural engineering component could help deliver on those demands by bringing more creativity to the process.”
Technology is one example. Veitas & Veitas is committed to using building information modeling (BIM), the beneficial technology that many in the multifamily space were slow to embrace. The comprehensive use of BIM is an advantage for a structural engineer in any market, but it is a particularly strong differentiator in the wood-framed building world where Veitas & Veitas is renowned.
“Less than five years ago, almost all wood-framed multifamily projects were conceived, drawn, and built from paper and two-dimensional CAD drawings across all disciplines,” says Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Bayreuther. “Driven by marketplace demands, we have been at the front of the curve in a transition from CAD to Revit. Now our architectural clients not only want their structures modeled in 3D, they want to bring that structure into their virtual building, and developers want to know that all trades have been virtually coordinated before the first stud is cut. We build our projects twice – once in Revit, then again for real. If we get it right the first time, the second time is faster and smoother.”
Bayreuther was hired in May of 2018, the beginning of a wave that resulted in the firm doubling to 30 employees by March 2021. He joins a leadership team that includes veteran principals, Linas Dabrila and Jack Wood. The firm also bolstered its technology commitment with Andrew Filipe as director of BIM and Shaun Bush as technical director, along with Chief Engineer Roumen Petkov.
Though its roots lie in New England and wood-frame structures, Veitas & Veitas has teamed with national developers to expand geographically and in building type. With satellite locations in four states (Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Virginia), the firm recently completed a 1,500-unit student housing development in Florida. The project includes 50 wood-framed residential buildings and two steel-framed clubhouses with cantilevered roofs.
In the Northeast, the firm has seen more activity in projects involving mid-rise apartment buildings, with four or five stories atop as many as three podium levels. Depending on the developer/contractor team and location, the podiums may be pre-tensioned concrete, structural steel, or conventional concrete flat plate. One Boston-area project, for example, utilizes European volumetric modular construction to construct six- and nine-story buildings supported by a robust podium structure over basement-level parking.
These projects coincide with the trend toward increased density, inspiring Veitas & Veitas to launch “The 6- to 14-Story Building Tour” in early May. The tour will illustrate to current and potential customers a variety of non-combustible systems that address design issues such as limited floor-to-floor height, weight restrictions and time constraints. The systems include panelized and/or cassette systems to increase speed of construction, cross-laminated timber (including V-Plate and V-Beam), and two volumetric modular approaches that reduce the duration of construction. They also provide weight reduction techniques to allow structures to be floated on shallow ground improvement instead of long piles or galvanized iron elements.
“Our goal continues to be to provide value-added services to the apartment building community for both locally based developers/builders and national developers who want to be part of the Boston-area multifamily buzz,” says Veitas. “Our repeat architectural clients understand the structural value that we bring to the table in the early phases of a project, and seek our opinions based on vast wood experience, in-depth knowledge of coordination with architectural and mechanical building features, and expertise with ground improvement to help minimize foundation costs on difficult sites.”