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River City Vet Adaptive Reuse

Innovative structural design of old retail building provides economic and environmental benefits to the community.

TRC partnered with Freeman Morgan Architects to provide structural engineering support for the adaptive reuse of an existing 11,000 square foot one-story retail building, converting it to a veterinary medical center.



The project site, a deteriorating existing building in the heart of Richmond, Virginia, was unique in that it was built in two phases; the first around 1970 and the second was completed in the 1980’s. However, the quality of the original construction posed some interesting challenges for this Adaptive Reuse project. The roof’s framing featured open web steel joists and metal roof deck, with a cantilevered wood canopy at the west side of the building. Walls were constructed of unreinforced masonry, and the existing foundations were concrete spread footings under masonry walls. Significant changes were required to restore and adapt the building for use as a veterinary medical center.

A major challenge in the design of this project challenge was including a series of large openings in the central interior bearing wall/shear wall. The openings were essential for the functional layout of offices, examination rooms and operating rooms. The extent of the openings was significant enough to require a seismic design upgrade to the wall.



TRC conducted a seismic analysis of the existing structure and designed new lintels and new seismic load resisting elements to accommodate the required large openings in the existing interior bearing wall and shear wall. Our team installed steel plate cross-bracing bolted to one face of the wall, integrated with structural steel lintels to support the large openings within the facility.

We also provided repairs to the existing canopy support for rooftop equipment, generator, and roof deck diaphragms, and storefront modifications.



The adaptive reuse of this property preserved existing architecture and reduced the project’s carbon footprint by taking advantage of existing embodied carbon in the building materials and avoiding carbon dioxide generated by demolition and removal. TRC’s innovative solutions for complex structural challenges supported a cost-effective, sustainable and fast new home for a veterinary hospital much needed by the community.


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