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Structural Engineering Coordination in Restaurant Design

As an Interior Designer in the field of restaurant design, we deal with all aspects of the build out of restaurants. We don’t just place things for what looks best, there’s a lot of considerations that must be addressed when designing the whole infrastructure of what makes a restaurant tick. In this case, here is an excerpt of an email I sent to a building owner when discussing the MAU (make-up air unit) and RTU (roof top unit) and the requirement to have a structural engineer involved in a certain stage of the project:

“With regards to structure, it would be best if a structural engineer would be ed for the placement of both the new RTU and MAU locations.

Simply installing structural supports without a structural engineer’s input may not fly with the City.

When a roof top unit of any sort is added to an existing structure, the engineer needs to do their calculations based on the size and weight of the unit along with the placement on the roof in relation to the joists as well as in relation to the other equipment located on the roof as well as any wind or snow loading requirements.

The drawings that were given to you from our mechanical engineer does not take into considerations all those calculations, only bases it on the mechanical engineer’s preferred locations and requirements for separations by code. You can not have the KEF (Kitchen Exhaust Fan) within 10 feet of any air intake from adjacent RTU’s or the MAU.

 So, the structural engineer will need to look at the mechanical engineer’s preferred location and ensure that it is ok or do the following:

  1. First, if those locations are fine, the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) will need a letter indicating this. The AHJ may require new drawings especially if a new RTU is being placed.
  2. If the units’ placements can be slightly adjusted and not require structural support added, then the cost and time of having those supports is gone.
  3. If the units’ placements need to be relocated by a large amount, then the mechanical engineer will need to be consulted if those new locations are acceptable to the ducting runs below.
  4. If the structural engineer’s placements away from the mechanical engineer’s placements cannot be met and structural support will need to be required, then the structural engineer needs to create a drawing that will let the contractor know what size and types of supports (and where) they will need to be placed.

 Randomly placing heavy equipment on the roof can cause problems and damage to the roof structure if not designed properly.

 I’ve included the drawing provided to us by a structural engineer for another project in Abbotsford as of late. In this case, the joists were wood. I believe you have steel. XYZ structural engineers are the same for your building as the Abbotsford project according to the base building drawings I was provided.”

If this aspect (which is one of many) of the build out is not addressed properly, this restaurant will not be allowed to open and the goal is obviously to achieve that.

Article written and published with permission by

National Industry Partners