40 41 AT A GLANCE RWDI WHAT: An environmental consulting firm WHERE: Guelph, Ontario, Canada WEBSITE: A TOP ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTING FIRM RWDI R WDI (Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc.) is a wind and environmental engi- neering consulting firm, renowned for its expertise in engineering modeling and analysis. The company offers a range of services to help create buildings that are more efficient, sustainable, comfortable to inhabit, and resilient to natural disasters. It has conducted wind engi- neering on projects including the London Millen- nium Bridge, the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the Freedom Tower on the WTC Site, the second span of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the Taipei 101 Tower, and the mega-skyscraper, Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building. Michael Soligo, RWDI’s President and CEO, recounts the company’s origins and growth: “The company was formed in 1972 by Bill Rowan and his neighbor, Frank Theakston, who was a profes- sor at the University of Guelph. Guelph is in the province of Ontario, which had quite an extensive building code by the 1970s. But the University of Guelph, which is a renowned agricultural univer- sity, had noticed that a lot of farm buildings in the area were failing under snow loads. So, some- thing was clearly insufficient about how the snow loads were identified in the building code. Rowan and Theakston decided to build physical models of farm buildings and submerge them in a water tank. The university, at the time, had something called an open channel water flume with running water. They would put particulate in that running water, which was just a very fine sand, and then that sand would fall out on the roofs of these ag- ricultural model ‘buildings.’ That would let Rowan and Theakston identify snow patterns, and then, from there, they could predict more accurately the snow loads on the building. There’s a lot of phys- ics behind it, but that’s the general concept. That’s the impetus of how we started. “From that point on, our company, which has gone by several names over time, got into simula- tion of environmental effects. Today, we simulate many different environmental phenomena: snow,