BKF Engineers Finds Creative Solutions for Complex Problems

You may think you don't know anything about BKF Engineers, but chances are you've been exposed to its civil engineering work numerous times and didn't even realize it.

Civil engineering deals with planning, building, and maintaining such things as roads, bridges, water supply, sewage disposal, utility infrastructure, and flood control. BKF Engineers is the largest civil engineering firm in Silicon Valley, with headquarters in Redwood City and offices in San Jose, Sacramento, Walnut Creek, and Pleasanton at 4780 Chabot Drive in the Hacienda Business Park.

The company offers a full range of civil engineering, master planning, and surveying services for residential, commercial, and public projects. BKF clients include local colleges and universities, government agencies, commercial and residential developers, hotels, hospitals, and health-care facilities.

"One of the reasons we like the Bay Area," explains Dan Schaefer, a BKF principal and vice president, "is because the projects are complex. We have a lot of redevelopment projects, like streetscape projects, where we revitalize a downtown area by narrowing streets and making them more pedestrian friendly. We have to work with the owners and merchants and facilitate public meetings to obtain input and direction. It's really about that personal attention. Each project is different and unique, and each project has different constraints that determine what's important for that project to succeed."

A number of recognizable projects around the Bay highlight the variety and complexity of BKF's work. In Milbrae its involvement in both rail and highway projects is apparent in the transit station completed in 2002, which serves BART, CalTrain, and Samtran from one location.

A short distance south is Redwood Shores, a 1400-acre master planned community with approximately 18,000 residential units and 1.2 million square feet of office space. Since 1973 BKF has provided services for the community's utilities, waste water system, roads, and earthwork. Redwood Shores is also home to Oracle Corporation. BKF provided the civil engineering to convert the former site of Marine World Africa USA into Oracle's corporate headquarters. Buildings now stand where water ski exhibitions once took place.

Further south is Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, one the firm's oldest projects. At the bottom of the Bay in San Jose is one of the newest - Santana Row, the first development of its size in California to integrate residential, retail, and recreation in a pedestrian friendly environment.

In the East Bay you'll find the West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. Local work also includes a "fast-track" project completed for Applied Biosystems' 80-acre Pleasanton campus. Demolition of existing buildings, recycling, and construction proceeded concurrently with design and entitlement processes. The new campus now uses the existing lake for irrigation and features public access along a restored riparian creek.

BKF Engineers has had a presence in Northern California since 1915. Stanford University, one of BKF's largest clients, has worked with the firm since 1954 on over a thousand projects.

"What I think we do fairly successfully," Schaefer says, "is identify what the specific criteria are for a project, what are the important constraints, and then we manage these risks so that the outcome is good for everybody." A simple design for success.

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