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Structural and Civil Engineering Companies Collaborating with Architects in Aviation Projects

As we enter the month of December, we welcome the arrival of the most magical season everyone has been waiting for ✨. The holidays give us the perfect opportunity to enjoy quality time with our loved ones as we celebrate together the most wonderful time of the year. That being said, it is no mystery that the holiday season is very chaotic when it comes to planning a trip. Airports can be unbearably busy and crowded around this time. This is especially relevant when speaking about Miami International Airport (MIA) ✈️, which is the main gateway between the U.S, Latin America, and Europe. For this reason, architectural firms along with structural and civil engineering companies have to develop master plans. These plans will become the guide to creating structures that will effectively and efficiently manage the operations of these crazy travelers and airport officials. 

Miami International Airport is America’s third-busiest airport for international passengers. This incredible structure holds a lineup of over 100 air carriers. It is the top U.S airport for international freight, and it generates approximately 60% of all international visitors in Florida. Crazy, right? But it doesn’t stop here, Miami International Airport has the vision of becoming a global airport of choice. MIA wants to offer a world-class experience and an expanded route network with direct passenger and cargo access to all world regions.

On our student initiative called “What’s the Scope?”, we had the honor of speaking with the company Gurri Matute PA (GMPA), a woman-owned architectural firm that has been included in several design projects for the Miami International Airport. In this article, we will talk about some of the firm’s involvement with the airport design, challenges related to these projects, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

“What’s The Scope?” – Miami International Airport

As we have mentioned before, What’s the Scope? is a student initiative where architecture and engineering students pick a structure they admire in Miami. Eastern Engineering Group contacts the design team to see if they are willing to answer our technical and design questions. David Manosalva, a civil engineering student from Florida International University (FIU), is very interested in aviation projects so he chose the Miami International Airport to structurally analyze. Daphne Gurri, AIA, LEED AP, one of the principals and owners of Gurri Matute PA, spoke to us about her involvement in aviation projects in the interview below. Check it out!

Architectural Master Planning

We now know that the MIA has great ambitions of becoming a global checkpoint for international travelers and cargo access. With this in mind, think about the billions of operations that have to be managed for this to be accomplished. To guarantee the effectiveness and standards, the facility where these operations will be performed has to accommodate accordingly. This is why we speak of a master plan. According to Think Architecture, architectural master planning is the critical first step in any design process. It is the creation of a framework in which the whole project proceeds.

This first stage will determine the style of the building that will be conditioned by the purpose of the structure. We are talking about a 3,230-acre land area that had to be adapted to what we know today as MIA, and what it is still becoming. Once the master plan is created, it is broken down into smaller design projects. These will be released as government bids where different design firms can apply to. We are simplifying this process for a better understanding; but these bids and projects take months to be awarded and years to be completed.

Here lies the reason why so many different architecture, structural, and civil engineering companies are involved in the different design projects of this facility. Gurri explains during our interview that 20 to 30 projects could be carried out at the same time by different design teams. Generally, these projects can range from repairs, renovations, or even brand new structures. 

Gurri Matute PA – MIA Projects

Following the protocol mentioned above, Daphne’s company recently completed a new 72,000 square-foot building, which houses the extension of a new luggage system. This interesting structure extends from the central terminal to the southern terminal. Furthermore, it has robotic cameras installed to inspect each suitcase which is very practical and innovative.

The team at Gurri Matute PA finds it very interesting to work on projects for Miami International Airport. They are currently leading the design for the new airport operations/emergency control center. They describe this structure as a “mission-critical space” for the daily operations of the airport.

Another project they have worked on is a maintenance and storage facility for Automated People Movers. An Automated People Mover (APM) is an electric train system used at airports. This system serves as the method of transportation for people going from one terminal to another. This 87,000 square-foot facility was built on levels 4 and 5 of the new expansion building at MIA. If you want to learn more about all the aviation projects Gurri Matute PA has performed, visit their website here

Challenges of Aviation Projects

If you think it is hard to coordinate a zoom meeting with a team, try coordinating a whole construction project. Wild ! Construction projects highly rely on the organization and management of all individual operations. Architecture, structural, and civil engineering companies are only a few of the professional parties that will be involved in a project. To their team, you can add mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, general contractors, among several others.  Architects, who are usually managing the project, organize the jobs in phases to have some type of control over time and budget.

One of the biggest challenges of aviation projects is also having to consider the general public. They have to think of the people walking around the airport while all these construction operations are happening. Public projects that involve structures such as airports, hospitals, or even schools, have to be accomplished during hours of operation ⏱️. Architects and engineers have to incorporate a deviation strategy in order for the airport to continue regular operations.

The World is Changing and Growing !

The projects and expansions for MIA are essential for its operation due to the continued rise of population. The rate of cargo, transportation, and mobility continue to increase day by day not only domestically but internationally as well. Due to this growth, MIA is consistently working on new projects. Architects and design companies must come up with different ways to solve issues as they arise. While doing so, they are working on other projects as well. Talk about multitasking! 

The Role of Structural and Civil Engineering Companies

It is important to understand how essential communication becomes when managing a construction project. Daphne describes her teamwork with structural engineers as architects giving the perspective, and the engineers providing the vision for these ideas to materialize. 

Architects are always creating new ideas that they can picture in their head but it is the engineers’ duty to take these ideas and bring them to life. Constant teamwork with structural and civil engineering companies is necessary for this process to reach completion. A structural engineer’s job is to solve problems when they are in the developing stage. This gives a perspective to the project that is crucial. It is very difficult to take an innovative project and delicately carry it out to completion ?. This makes the daily communication between the two teams essential in the development of projects.

Girl Power!?

During our interview, we learned a lot of very interesting aspects of aviation projects we had never heard about before. However, we were also encouraged by the career path Gurri has taken and we loved to learn about how she is able to balance work, business, her passion, and family. It is very inspiring to see how Gurri and her husband have been able to join forces and create such a successful business together. Oh yeah, did we forget to mention that? Talk about major relationship goals?! 

Gurri Matute PA has been in operation for 24 years. Impressive, right? Starting your own business takes a lot of hard work, dedication, time, and passion ? . Gurri Matute PA is an architectural firm that caters to all of its clients by staying innovative and creating exactly what they are looking for. 

Daphne Gurri is a very influential figure in the world of design here in Miami. Not only is she one of the owners of Gurri Matute PA, but she is also the President of the AIA Miami.

American Institute of Architects (AIA)

The American Institute of Architects also known as AIA, started in 1857 by a group of architects in New York City. Its initial purpose was for members to gather for readings, meetings, and conversations. They wanted to create a place where professional architects could get together and socialize about their mutual interests. Fast forward to now, this institution can be found throughout the United States ?.

Over the years, they went from being 13 members to being close to 95,000 licensed architects and associated professionals. Jacksonville, Florida joined in 1912 and expanded throughout the state. Then in 1929, Miami joined this association. It is fascinating to see how 13 creative AIA members started an institute in 1857 that has grown and become so relevant in this time. 

Currently, AIA continues to offer its members activities, services, and the knowledge necessary to maintain high standards within the profession. It allows its members to share ideas, soak up on innovations, network, and to create and obtain business opportunities.  Whether you just graduated from college or work in an architectural firm, everyone is encouraged and welcomed to join this community. AIA gives everyone within the architect community an opportunity to create connections and absorb information and has stayed consistent with that goal ?.

Happy Holidays and Happy Travels !

Now that you are rushing to catch your flight, hopefully, you notice the different structures from a new perspective. Make sure to appreciate the effort of architects and engineers to ensure a safe and pleasant experience throughout the airport.  

Eastern Engineering Group wishes you an amazing holiday season! We hope you enjoy the art of places and innovations in this time of travel and reunions! Have a unique experience and a pleasant trip??.

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