San Francisco Native and KPFF Structural Engineer Tackles Housing Equity

San Francisco Native and KPFF Structural Engineer Tackles Housing Equity

May 31, 2023
Michaela Nava

Michaela Nava

Project Manager
Jen Gelose

Jen Gelose

Marketing Specialist
San Francisco Native and KPFF Structural Engineer Tackles Housing Equity

Born and raised in San Francisco, Michaela Nava was fascinated by buildings from a young age. She was curious how they are designed, how they are built, and especially how they stand up after earthquakes! When she started thinking about college it didn’t take long for her to zero in on structural engineering as her major. During her time at Santa Clara University, she started to notice the dramatic changes in the urban landscape around her. Mainly, the lack of affordable housing. Michaela shares how she and her colleagues are participating in furthering equitable housing in the SF Bay Area.

“My first job out of college was for a small engineering firm whose client base was mostly single-family homes in the South Bay. I worked there for a couple years, but always wanted to do more for the community back in my home town of San Francisco. I found myself at KPFF in 2016, drawn there for the collaborative culture and so I could work on affordable housing projects. I quickly learned and innovated ways to design a structure economically while achieving beautiful homes for people to live.”

Casa de la Mision provides housing for seniors transitioning out of homelessness. Created in collaboration with HKIT, Y.A. Studio, James E. Roberts-Obayashi Corp, Mercy Housing, Mission Neighborhood Centers and PGAdesign.
Photos ©David Wakely

Michaela collaborates with many different local and national architects on these housing projects, each one inspiring her to design for efficiency, resiliency and sustainability. Specific strategies include:

  • Efficient structural layouts to minimize material costs without loss of structural integrity
  • Close collaboration with architects to optimize column and framing layouts to achieve the architectural vision (i.e., maximum unit sizes, comfort, safety)
  • Close collaboration with other disciplines such as MEP to reduce conflicts during the course of construction
  • Development of prefabricated and modular framing systems to shorten construction schedules
  • Implementation of high replacement concrete mixes of up to 70%, reducing carbon emissions
  • Early integration of the general contractor to implement feedback based on pricing and constructability, reducing overall cost of the project and reducing RFIs during construction

“We have a long way to go to solve the housing crisis in San Francisco. I am committed to playing an active role in this process, for the benefit of the community, the city I love and to further our profession.”

455 Fell Street in collaboration with Leddy Maytum Stacey, Paulett Taggart Architects, San Francisco Housing Development Corporation and Mercy Housing California
San Francisco Native and KPFF Structural Engineer Tackles Housing Equity

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