RFA Structural Engineers

Specialty: Structural design of buildings, including new construction, renovation and restoration, structural investigations, seismic review and seismic upgrade

Management: Robert J. Fossatti, principal and president; Mark LaCasse, principal and vice president of finance

Founded: The firm was re-organized and adopted its current name in 2004 (operated as Robert Fossatti Associates for 17 years prior)

Headquarters: Seattle

2007 revenues: $1.5 million

Projected 2008 revenues: $2 million

Current projects: Monica’s Village Place mixed-use development in Seattle; Creekside Retirement Community in Burlington; Broadway on Broadway, a Seattle mixed-use building; 1620 Broadway Ave., with 11,500 square feet of office space, 94 residential units, 14,500 square feet of retail and 28 units of student housing for Seattle Central Community College

Photo courtesy of RFA Structural Engineers
RFA performed the structural design for the Corporate Retreat at Suncadia Resort in Roslyn. The 5,500-square-foot building has heavy timber framing.

RFA Structural Engineers estimates it will make more in 2008 than last year, which is no small feat given the faltering economy and credit market meltdown.

“The first three quarters were pretty good this year,” said President Robert “Bob” Fossatti. He doesn’t expect his firm to fare as well in the remainder of 2008.

“Everything is pointed down from here to the end of the year so we’re marketing like mad and trying to get things kicked loose and moving ahead,” he said.

A few months ago RFA was looking to hire more staff and couldn’t find any, he said.

“Now I think people are available and we don’t need them,” he said. “Things have definitely slowed down.”


RFA primarily markets itself as a boutique structural consulting firm that specializes in buildings. Its completed projects include the African American Academy in Seattle and the Corporate Retreat at Suncadia Resort in Roslyn.

But to keep financially secure in this economy, the 12-employee firm has diversified into areas such as stair design, structural plan review, and support design for mechanical and electrical equipment.RFA designs the skeleton of buildings — the footings, columns, walls and roofs.

“I like to say the architect makes them pretty and we make them stand up,” Fossatti said.

Mixed-use is trendy

He said mixed-use continues to be a trend and until recently “one of our bigger markets that we’ve seen growing is high-end single-family housing, like multi-million-dollar houses — Microsoft folks no doubt.”

One of the givens of luxury homes is that they usually have views, and therefore lots of glass, he said. This means one end of the house is weak, so his firm installs beams, columns and steel frames to address this, he said.

Fossatti said his firm changed its name in 2004 to make a possible future ownership transfer easier — “so if the employees bought the firm they wouldn’t be stuck with my name.”

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