Listening to Todd Bauer recount the jobs he has handled, it doesn’t take long to realize there’s hardly a corner of the Fort Wayne area he hasn’t touched. As founder and principal of ForeSight Consulting, LLC, a civil engineering and surveying firm, Bauer has been working with developers and builders for more than 15 years. Still, because ForeSight’s work often takes place out of the limelight, most people don’t realize the role the company plays in developing the community.
“We do a lot of work in town, but not a lot of people know who we are,” says Bauer. “We’re kind of like the offensive line in football; no one really knows we’re there unless there’s a problem.”
That’s because civil engineers deal mostly with infrastructure. From surveying the land to incorporating its geology into a design to overseeing its implementation, civil engineering firms like ForeSight are the glue that holds a project together. In addition to the site work, they also work diligently to obtain necessary approvals from a wide variety of agencies and governing bodies. What makes ForeSight particularly effective is Bauer’s depth of knowledge of the process and the players.
“You’ve got to be able to speak the language and you’ve got to know the process,” says Bauer. “Not only do you have to know the system and the players, but you also have to help everyone work together. You have to understand the difference between what is possible and what is reasonable.”
No one understands that better than Bauer, who loves to recall projects with which ForeSight has been involved. Each one comes with its own unique challenges, which Bauer always meets head-on.
“Sometimes we’re able to do the survey and give site specs to the architect or builder to design around, but more often we have to figure out how to fit an existing design to a given space,” explains Bauer.
A definitive example of accommodating tight space constraints is the current Bishop Dwenger stadium project at the corner of Washington Center Road and North Clinton Street. The new stadium is set to surround the school’s existing practice field, where the track and football playing surfaces are already in place. With zoning, height and setback restrictions – not to mention the flight path to nearby Smith Field – the process has been complex.
Bauer has been intimately involved from the beginning. After ForeSight completed the survey, it had to place the already-designed building footprint on top, comparing the design to the site requirements. Bauer then had to meet with city officials to discuss any differences, as well as work with the architect to make modifications. In the case a variance may be required, Bauer would have to handle that, too. With so many parties involved, he often acts as counsel or liaison with the developer, builder, architect and permitting agencies.
“It really helps to cultivate relationships through professionalism and attitude,” says Bauer.
“It also means I have to speak everyone’s language.”
On the other hand, there are also times when Bauer and ForeSight get to start at the beginning, like when clients have a piece of land and are looking for ways to develop it. A particular favorite of Bauer’s has been the Dupont Corners project. When ForeSight was approached for assistance with the project, the property involved was a completely undeveloped piece of land – a veritable blank canvas.
Without knowing how it might be used or exactly what might be on the horizon, ForeSight had to prepare the land to allow for as much flexibility as possible. He had to work within the existing topography to segment it into tracts, bring in utilities and drainage, and generally make it build-ready without knowing what might be built. When ForeSight took on the project, Diebold Road had not yet been widened, so understanding the city and county’s future plans was also critical.
Still, the opportunity to create something from nothing holds a strong appeal to Bauer. “It’s been a cool one,” he says. “You’re kind of designing for the future.”
Another memorable project for Bauer is the General Mills Distribution Center, located on Bluffton Road. ForeSight was brought in to work with the county to create a new drainage system for the property that includes a 1.5 million square-foot building. The project required an extremely quick, 12-month completion and involved a large number of stakeholders with varying interests. ForeSight finished the project on time and, as usual, under the radar.
“The most of our work you’ll usually see is above grade, if they plant it with trees and shrubs,” says Bauer with a smile.
Next up for ForeSight is designing the new interior road that will improve access to the shops at Jefferson Pointe. Like the Dwenger stadium, the project requires the near-surgical insertion of a new structure. It requires much more than just replacing the existing sidewalk area with a roadway. The fountain must stay in place, the buildings already exist and aesthetic requirements place added restrictions on the design. Besides that, current elevation changes such as steps throughout the plaza must be smoothed to accommodate the road. The final result must also maintain the same kind of look and feel.
“We have to transition it from a landscape feel to an urban hardscape feel, all while still giving the sense of being friendly to pedestrians,” says Bauer. “You still want it to have the same draw, just in a different way with different materials. We’ve really worked on the geometry of the road so it feels more organic in a very rigid space.”
In all, Bauer doesn’t mind that the work ForeSight does often goes unnoticed by the general public. To him, that means the project was a success.
“If you do it right, it functions and people take it for granted and enjoy it,” says Bauer, “that’s a good project.”
1910 Saint Joe Center Road, #51
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
500 North Street, Suite 3
Auburn, Indiana 46706
1220 North 200 West, Suite A
Angola, Indiana 46703
Principal: Todd Bauer
Services: Civil engineering, land surveying and land development