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In May 2013, the Structural Engineering Association of Michigan awarded Professor Emeritus Robert M. Darvas its Lifetime Achievement Award.

In making this award the criteria required:

Outstanding Achievement in the Field: Chapel of the Air Force Academy In Colorado, designated as one of the 10 best buildings in America; the Kresge Foundation Building in Troy, MI; State of Michigan Capitol Building Restoration in Lansing, MI: Gunnar Birkerts’ underground addition to the Michigan Law Library and the Lurie Bell Tower, both on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, MI. He received awards from the Hungarian National Academy of Sciences, the American Institute of Steel Construction, the American Consulting Engineering Council, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to name a few.

Mentoring of Younger Engineers and Students: For thirty-five years Professor Darvas taught structures to architecture students at the University of Michigan. He was known for his passion, energy, and enthusiasm. In 1970 he was the first recipient of Taubman College’s Sol King Award for Excellent Teaching in Architecture. And in 1992, he was presented with a special “Why Buildings Stand Up Award” on behalf of all his former students who had learned from and been inspired by his passion and love for architecture.

Improving the Quality of Life for Others: During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 Robert left Hungary, emigrating from his beloved homeland through an Austrian refugee camp, to London, and eventually to the University States in 1958. As an immigrant himself, Robert understands well the challenges new immigrants face. He and his wife, Eva, have opened their hearts and their home to provide food, shelter and assistance. Annually, they invited foreign students and new residents of Ann Arbor to Thanksgiving dinners. In the firm he founded in 1961, he continues to foster an environment that supports participation in community activities and the mentoring of students and young engineers.

Robert M. DarvasRobert Darvas Associates, P.C. began in 1961 as Robert Darvas and Associates. The company is named after its founder, Robert M. Darvas, an engineer who left his position as senior structural designer for the Chicago-based firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to accept a position as Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan. In September of 1979, Robert Darvas and three of the registered engineers on his staff incorporated to form the present professional corporation.

Forever curious and forever the professor, Bob shares his knowledge with his team while challenging them to stretch their capacities and skills. Each team member embraces their responsibilities of project management, client relationships and leadership. He established a firm that always looks forward, embraces new technologies and seeks solutions in partnership with clients.

2015 Firm of the Year.inddCongratulations to our friends and colleagues at HopkinsBurns Design Studio for being named AIA Michigan 2015 Firm of the Year. The firm is led by principals and co-founders Gene Hopkins, FAIA and Tamara Burns, AIA, LEED AP and is nationally recognized in historic preservation architecture. The Ann Arbor, Michigan based firm has extensive experience in the restoration and rehabilitation of hundreds of structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places including a number of National Historic Landmarks. The focus of the firm is historic preservation and communities by design with architectural expertise in the preservation, restoration and adaptive reuse of existing buildings and in the design of new places in downtown neighborhoods that are context sensitive and creatively fresh.

The Globe Building, which is home to the new William H. Milliken State Park and Harbor Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit, was awarded the Engineering News-Record Midwest’s Best Project of the Year in Renovation/Restoration for 2014. To introduce Michigan’s vast recreational offerings to a demographic far removed from the wilderness, construction team members converted Detroit’s 120-year-old Globe Trading Company Building—a condemned 40,000-sq-ft structure—into a showcase for the state’s natural resources. Shuttered for decades, the Globe served as an early example of steel-framing when first constructed. To preserve its place in history, project team members elected to salvage large portions of the beams, columns and unique Wellman-style trusses.

When team members first arrived on site, however, they were confronted with crumbling brick, shattered windows and concrete panels hanging from ceilings. Creating a safe jobsite was the first item of business, requiring extensive evaluation of the existing conditions. This process also assisted in identifying structural members of sufficient strength to include in the project. Among other tasks, crews pressure-washed every square inch of the interior to expose problems and determine where the building’s existing steel required replacement or reinforcement. Where reinforcement was required, designers engineered new members to fit within the existing framework. Investigative efforts, which required months, presented a large but necessary risk and exposed an array of unknowns. In all, about 40% of the existing structure required removal, with an intricate bracing system erected to support remaining portions during demolition. Due in part to careful hand removal, team members likewise incorporated more than 40,000 original bricks into the refurbished structure. Similarly, salvaged clay roof tiles were incorporated into a reconstructed parapet cap.

The Outdoor Adventure Center hosts exhibits and programs that showcase a variety of endeavors native to Michigan, from boating and camping to fishing, hunting and trapping, all while educating visitors about the state’s ecosystem, state parks, animal habitats and conservation programs.

The reconstruction was completed in just one year despite it being the state’s snowiest winter on record.

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor Outdoor Adventure Center for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Detroit
Key Players
Owner: Roxbury Group, Detroit
General Contractor: Walbridge, Detroit, Michigan
Architect: Hobbs + Black, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Structural Engineer: Robert Darvas Associates, Ann Arbor, Michign
MEP Engineer: Strategic Energy Solutions, Berkley, Michigan
Civil Engineer: Mason Browns Associates, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Photos courtesy of DNR
Article courtesy of Johns Gregerson, ENR Midwest