A new topology optimization method to extract optimal beam-like, plate-like, or shell-like structures from a solid finite element mesh is presented. The development of this method was motivated because traditional optimization methods tend to produce truss-like structures that are not necessarily optimal from the manufacturing point of view. Buildings, for example, are typically designed with beams and plates and not with trusses. Car bodies are designed using shell meshes because stampings are needed for enclosing the structure and for aesthetic reasons. Dams are designed using walls (plate-like) to reinforce the main shell. The presented method parameterizes the design domain assembled with finite elements. The method is suitable for general irregular meshes that are typically created by mesh generators. The method is very efficient as it uses a small number of design variables and it does not add additional constraints to impose the manufacturing requirements. The manufacturing requirements are built in to the parameterization of the design variables. The proposed method is implemented in the GENESIS program and some examples that show its effectiveness are included. Contact VR&D to obtain a copy of this paper.