Affordable Housing Meets Innovation: Elizabeth House III and Alexander House Projects

EM Structural Engineers is no stranger to architectural innovations—but recently, two of our projects, Elizabeth House III and Alexander House brought us to the cutting edge of affordable housing.

The term “affordable housing” conjures many images in popular culture—none of them particularly flattering. In movies and television, characters who live in affordable housing are often relegated to small, dilapidated living spaces.

But with Elizabeth House III and Alexander House, EM Structural Engineers has helped create incredible living spaces for mixed-income residents to thrive in.

The Elizabeth House III—located in Silver Spring, Maryland, and completed in 2022—is a colorful and dynamic high-rise building that features 67 mixed-income senior housing rental units. Residents have access to an amenity space, a health clinic, and a Montgomery County Recreation Center that features a swimming pool, gymnasium, exercise space, and meeting rooms. The building also features three levels of underground parking, and will eventually provide a green roof, biorientation, and rooftop garden.

Also located in Silver Spring, Maryland is the Alexander House Renovation. Originally built in 1992, this affordable housing project consisted of renovating all 305 units, in addition to the lobby and amenity spaces, and the replacement and upgrade of MEP systems and elevators. On top of impressive structural improvements, EM Structural Engineers spearheaded efforts to update the building’s appearance through new canopies, handrails, and façade elements.

Neither of these projects would have been possible without the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, which provided funds for both projects. Established in 1974, the HOC owns, leases, and operates housing and obtains public and private funds which allow the commission to provide housing, arrange for social services, and more. Their mission is to provide affordable housing and other supportive services that enhance the quality of life of low- and moderate-income individuals and families throughout Montgomery County.

Their innovative model differs from standard affordable housing models, in that they integrate affordable housing throughout the county. No longer are these projects relegated to poorer neighborhoods or different sections of the same building—instead, lower and moderate-income housing is housed in the same building—within the same communities, and with the same amenities, as standard and higher-end housing. The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission has pioneered this model, and local governments throughout the country continue to adopt their revolutionary practices.

The combination of creating new state-of-the-art buildings, renovations, and their progressive housing model enables the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission to achieve its mission of strengthening families and their communities. EM Structural Engineers is proud to have been a part of these incredible projects.

Fenton cold-form steel design project

Fenton’s Transformation into a Thriving Urban Oasis

The Fenton development in Cary, North Carolina, has transformed from an empty 92-acre site to a thriving urban oasis, defying initial expectations. Originally intended as a storage location for state vehicles, Fenton has blossomed into a dynamic open-air destination, drawing thousands of residents from the affluent suburban surroundings.

At Fenton, residents revel in the charm of chef-driven eateries like M Sushi and Colletta, accompanied by art-lined walkways. The center offers green spaces with hammocks, fireplaces, and game setups, fostering a vibrant and engaging environment. With over 200 annual activations, including events like Raleigh Fashion Fest and Light the Square, Fenton has become a hub of activity and community spirit.

Hines, in partnership with Columbia Development, orchestrated Fenton’s creation, setting it apart as a groundbreaking project built from scratch.

Fenton’s Phase One, with 345,000 SF of retail space, houses a curated collection of outlets, including Arhaus, Lululemon, Paragon Theaters, PBR Cowboy Bar, and Sephora, alongside multitenant residential and elevated office spaces. The impressive debut of Phase One has spurred remarkable leasing activity, with Phase Two already underway. Fenton’s evolution showcases the power of visionary development to redefine a community’s landscape and lifestyle.

Read more about this project here:

Read more about Fenton and other retail center experiences here:

Raleigh Ironworks post tensioned concrete project

Raleigh Iron Works part of massive downtown transformation

Raleigh Iron Works stands as a testament to the evolving landscape of the city, combining urban development with historic preservation. Nestled within a former factory on Atlantic Avenue, this multifaceted project encapsulates the city’s growth while honoring its past. Once a hub for munitions during World War I, the warehouse has transformed into a vibrant mixed-use space featuring retail and office areas alongside a residential complex.

As Raleigh experiences a surge in population and global attention, projects like Raleigh Iron Works offer a solution for balanced expansion. Embracing the essence of modern living, the development caters to the rising demand for convenient housing near amenities, schools, and shops. The proximity of Raleigh Iron Works to other revitalization efforts, such as the upcoming “Salvage Yard,” indicates a dynamic transformation underway in the area.

Residents view this development as a reflection of Raleigh’s ascending status, providing diverse entertainment and dining options. The integration of historical significance with contemporary functionality marks Raleigh Iron Works as a cornerstone in the city’s journey toward a vibrant and enticing future.

Read more about this project here: 

Read more about these exciting additions to Raleigh here:

Salisbury Square aerial shot

Salisbury Square and Seven Other Projects Changing Raleigh’s Southern Gateway

Salisbury Square is an ambitious development project in Raleigh. Dominion Realty purchased the former N.C. Association of Educators building’s site, intending to replace it with two, 20-story mixed-use towers. The plan includes adding over 600 apartments and offices, with Dogwood State Bank choosing to locate its headquarters in the first tower completed. Currently, site preparation work is underway for the first phase, but the construction timeline remains unknown. Exciting changes are coming to 700 S. Salisbury St.!

Read more about the other Southern Gateway projects here:

The Porter structural steel design multifamily apartments

Why Use Structural Steel? The Advantages in Design and Engineering

Why Steel?

Steel has long been a crucial building element due to its unique strength properties and incredible versatility. Structural steel can make any design the structural engineers and architects make come to life, whether straightforward and functional or a more creative showstopper. 

According to the American Institute of Steel Construction, “The light and airy feel that structural steel can convey is almost magical, and its inherent design flexibility is limitless. Whether it is a curved slab edge, an unencumbered column-free space or a heavily loaded equipment room, steel can provide an elegant and cost-effective solution. No other framing material comes close to structural steel’s ability to encourage freedom of expression and design creativity.”


How is Structural Steel Used?

Structural steel can be used in a wide variety of building projects, including large steel structures such as skyscrapers, office buildings, hospitals, or schools. Here at EM Structural, we most frequently use steel design for low-rise retail buildings, and as transfer framing for mixed-use buildings where there is residential (timber or cold-formed steel) framing above retail or amenity space.


Advantages of Using Structural Steel

  • High strength: steel structures weigh less than structures of other materials due to steel’s high strength per unit of weight.
  • Uniformity: over time, steel’s properties do not change or depreciate. 
  • Elasticity: steel follows expectations and performs very close to design assumptions under stress. 
  • Permanence: steel lasts indefinitely with proper maintenance
  • Ductility: rather than failing under high stresses immediately, steel can tolerate extensive deformation.
  • Toughness: with high strength and ductility, steel is a tough material that can absorb large amounts of energy.
  • Additions to Existing Structures: steel structures make it easier than other materials to add new portions of a building.  

Read more about the advantages of structural steel here.


More Benefits of Steel Design and Detailing

Cold-formed steel framing speeds construction and is an ideal medium for clients looking for a more rapid building phase. It also provides flexibility in the future by allowing for easier additions and remodels. Our integrated approach in steel design and detailing uses the latest design software and building information models to ensure the most economical and constructible steel designs for our clients.

Learn more about EM’s steel design process here, or Contact Us to start a project. 


Our Charlotte Office is Moving!

We are thrilled to announce our Charlotte team is moving to The Offices at Carson Station located at the edge of South End and uptown!

Formally known as Morehead Square, this space has been renovated with some exiting new features. The interior changes include a tenant lounge and coffee bar, a 9,700 SF restaurant space with an enlarged patio that overlooks the Carson Street light-rail platform and a cascading staircase that gives access to the light rail, as well as a pedestrian rail-trail bridge over Interstate 277 that will link South End and uptown. A two-story mural inside the lobby was designed to reflect the energy of South End.

Read more about the project here.

Prose NoDa Apartment Project

Arizona developer Alliance Residential buys NoDa site for latest Charlotte apartment project

Prose NoDa, a new 302-unit apartment complex is underway in the NoDa community of Charlotte. Once complete, it will boast two open courtyards with a resort-style pool, outdoor kitchen and grilling areas, a dog park, private coworking offices, a fitness center, and a clubroom for residents.

It is expected that the first units at Prose NoDa will be available in 2024.

EM Structural is proud to partner with Cline Design and Alliance Residential on this exciting venture!

Click here to read more

Waldo's Mixed-Use Development

In Old Fourth Ward, mixed-use Waldo’s rumbles back to life

We are excited that construction has begun on a new $80-million mixed-use development, named Waldo’s, in Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta, GA!

This development is a mix of hotel rooms, office space, retail, and townhomes, and is expected to “start moving in tenants” in the second quarter of 2023, after being stalled by the pandemic after its 2019 groundbreaking.

We are excited to partner with TVS Design for this new project!

Click here to read more.

Birkdale Golf Club Development

Birkdale Golf Club in Huntersville temporarily closes to make way for $65M development

A new luxury development at Birkdale Golf Club is now underway, and will include 210 luxury apartments, a 140-room hotel with a conference center, and 45,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space to the market when complete.

It is expected that Birkdale Golf Club should reopen in the third quarter of 2023, after renovations to its clubhouse and a realignment of the ninth hole. In 2021, $500,000 was invested to convert the greens to Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda grass at the 18-hole course.

The first of two commercial buildings will deliver in the fourth quarter of this year. That 28,500-square-foot building will be two levels. No tenants have been named to date, but Gustafson says a full-service restaurant and fast-casual concepts are on his radar.

Click here to read more:

2023 SPACE Award

Triangle Business Journal 2022 SPACE Award for Mixed-Use Development and Redevelopment

Two of our projects have recently been awarded a 2023 Space Award by the Triangle Business Journal.

The Space Awards celebrate the best in Triangle commercial real estate by shining a light on the projects, people, and companies making the Triangle one of the best places to do business.

Fenton, a 14-building project on 92 acres, was awarded as the Mixed-Use Development Winner. The $1 billion Fenton project started with 332,289 square feet of new retail space that was 92 percent preleased. When it’s finished, Fenton will feature up to 1.2 million square feet of office space, 575,000 square feet of retail space, 920 residential units, and 450 hotel rooms. The residential units and hotel are still under construction.

Raleigh Iron Works, located in the historic Iron Works District, was named the Redevelopment Winner. With a theme of “restoring the past and forging the future”, Raleigh Iron Works repurposes the Double Gable and Bow Truss buildings, which once served as steel mills and warehouses for Peden Steel, into office and retail space. Once finished, the $159 million Raleigh Iron Works project will include a parking deck, 553,507 square feet of office space, 81,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, along with a multifamily residential building.

Thank you to our partners Nelson Worldwide, Hines Developers, Hoar Construction, Samet Corporation, Cline Design, Grubb Ventures, and Jamestown, for allowing us to be a part of these great projects!

Read more about Fenton here and read more about Raleigh Iron Works here!

Let us help make your next engineering project a success.