Draper Aden’s Structural Division is Quick and Reliable

Richmond’s first licensed medical cannabis production facility was designed and built on a rapid, one-year schedule. After successfully navigating regulatory hurdles to receive one of four licenses from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, Green Leaf Medical of Virginia also had the added challenge to get a certificate of occupancy by the end of 2019.


When the design-build team needed a reliable and speedy structural engineering team, KBS, Inc., the general contractor for the project, reached out to Draper Aden’s structural engineers.


Structural engineering plans need to be completed before construction can begin, so our team got to work and prepared full drawings for the 82,000 SF building in two months.


Not only was the turnaround for this project fast, the specific needs for growing so many plants indoors added to the design challenge.


“The grow rooms are on the second floor, so all of that equipment, including lots of piped-in water, made the second floor very heavy,” said Jason Judy, structural engineer of record. “The live load of the second floor was more than double that of our usual designs.”

green leaf medical of Virginia building

The occupancy goal coupled with the tight footprint of the building also meant that the original plan for tilt-up walls had to be changed. The ground floor slab, which is what the walls would have been cast on, would not be poured until much later in the construction process. Waiting for that would have caused the team to miss the target occupancy date.


“Once we ruled out tilt-up walls, we considered using pre-cast concrete, but there was a backlog from high demand, so we regrouped again,” Judy said. “Ultimately, we used concrete blocks because we could get them much faster, and they worked well with the space restraints.”


This project received its certificate of occupancy in time, and Green Leaf Medical of Virginia had their first harvest on September 16, 2020. Hundreds of patients registered ahead of the November 27 opening day of the dispensary.


From an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the facility’s pharmacist in charge Trey Blankinship said:


“We just wanted to show everybody, show Richmond, show Virginia that this works, this helps and it has a place in medicine … we believe in it as a medicine, we’ve seen it firsthand. We know it’s going to help people, and we’re excited for it.”


Read the full article here.