Peninsula Crossing  — Burlingame, CA

Cornerstone Earth Group Inc. is providing geotechnical and environmental services in support of DivcoWest for Peninsula Crossing, a multi-structure development in Burlingame, CA. The bayfront development is designed to feature three 11-story office buildings, two 10-level parking structures, a pedestrian bridge, and over a quarter mile of new Bay Trail. The combined office/lab buildings would be 1.4 million square feet with 5,000 square feet of retail in two public cafes. The three 11-story buildings are designed to support both lab and office tenants to create a robust life science cluster.

Buildings will cover under half the property, leaving over 5 acres of publicly available open space. The project’s most high-profile landscaping addition will be 1,475 feet of new Bay Trail, connecting the site to a regional trail network. Facade materials will include clear glass, fritted glass, perforated metal, concrete, and cementitious panels, graphic interlayered glass, and warm metal panels.

cornerstone's added value benefit:

  • Combined geotechnical and environmental sampling during preliminary phases to save on mobilization of two drill rigs.
  • Performed a site-specific response analysis to provide more detailed estimates of anticipated ground motions during a major earthquake.
  • Provided seismic slope stability mitigation solutions along the Bay and Easton Creek.
  • Provided value engineering solutions for leaving existing fills in place outside of new building footprints.
  • Provided multiple recommendations including surcharge, lightweight fill, or cellular concrete to reduce potential settlement from raising site grades.
  • Worked closely with design team and Devcon Construction to discuss soil related concerns, value engineering solutions, and sequencing during construction.
  • Installed groundwater monitoring wells onsite to help establish historical groundwater data so that groundwater can be planned for during construction accordingly.
  • Assisted the project team with evaluating environmental compliance and developed a plan to obtain the necessary data to efficiently address those requirements.

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Our History

Although Cornerstone Earth Group, Inc. (Cornerstone) officially opened its doors in 2007, the seeds that grew into Cornerstone were planted years earlier. The founders originally met at Lowney Associates, where Cornerstone President and CEO, Ron Helm, had been since the late 1980s, eventually becoming COO, and later, President. But they became unhappy with the direction the company took when they were acquired by a larger public engineering firm in 2003. The future Cornerstone founders found themselves in agreement that the new company placed too much focus on dollars and cents and too little on customer service.

Eventually, the lack of priority given to the client’s needs became unacceptable, and Mr. Helm, along with Barry Butler (retired), Scott Fitinghoff (deceased), Laura Knutson (retired), Danh Tran, John Dye, Peter Langtry and Ron Massone launched the fledgling enterprise. They opened for business in Sunnyvale, California where, although it has since expanded, Cornerstone’s original office is still located today. Soon after, Kurt Soenen came on board. Before long, the company opened a second office in Walnut Creek, California.

In the beginning Cornerstone had no employees; the Principals drew no salary; and the Sunnyvale office was so wide open that they would amuse themselves and release the stress of working long hours by holding chair races on the premises. Who eventually became the chair racing champion remains a subject of contentious debate. The founding Principals generated their own business; performed the field work; performed the engineering analyses; and prepared their own documents.

After a year or two, enough business began to roll in that the first few employees were hired and, although they might not have known it, were actually paid more than the founders in the beginning. Over the next few years, the Principals found themselves happily surprised as some early successes occurred and the amount of business generated significantly increased. As an example, Mr. Helm describes an early meeting he had with Facebook when it was a small privately owned company. Even though at the time Facebook’s projects were small, Cornerstone treated their business the same as they would their largest client, and as a result Facebook remains a loyal client to this day. Eventually, many more Bay Area giants retained the services of Cornerstone Earth Group such as Adobe, Google and LinkedIn, to name a few. 

As the company has increased in size, emphasis was placed on organic growth, with most new customers coming through recommendations and word-of-mouth. It is also a core belief held by Cornerstone that to continue the growth of the company it is critical to follow our four corners of success:  1) Be Exceptional; 2) Add Value; 3) Learn and Improve; and 4) Have Fun. In addition, it was clear that Cornerstone also emphasized providing employees with a clear path forward to success by consistently creating opportunities for employees to grow with the company.

Mr. Helm is quick to point to the selfless teamwork and genuine friendship among the founders, along with their client-first approach and cost-effective practical recommendations, as the primary reasons the company at first survived, and eventually, thrived.