Earthquake Engineering

Designing buildings with earthquakes in mind for more than 50 years

Here in San Francisco, earthquakes are an issue that is close to home. Forell/Elsesser has consistently upheld its reputation as a leader in the field of seismic engineering in our home town and worldwide. Pioneering the application of numerous innovative structural solutions for seismic applications, Forell/Elsesser always looks to implement new techniques where appropriate to improve upon traditional models in terms of cost or seismic performance. We are early adopters of state-of-the-art technology like seismic isolation, passive damping, ductile yielding brace systems such as buckling restrained braces, and in the use of alternative materials such as laminated fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials. In fact, Forell/Elsesser designed the world’s first application of seismic isolation for a historic building. Such early use of innovative approaches goes hand-in-hand with our capability in state of the art structural analysis methods, since many innovative seismic protection systems require the use of dynamic nonlinear analysis techniques for their effective evaluation.

For Buckling Restrained Braced Frame (BRBF), seismic isolation, passive damping, and FRP, our earliest applications of the technology preceded adoption of requirements by building codes, and were consequently scrutinized by independent peer reviewers as part of the design process. In each of those cases, Forell/Elsesser was instrumental in educating the peer reviewers about the appropriate use of the technology.

Because of our pioneering role in the use of innovative systems, we have had to closely research costs of various systems, and not just rely on cost estimators or contractors’ bids for budgeting purposes. This contributes to our consistent track record of creating systems that come in under budget. We have developed competitive bidding methods for many of the new systems we have used, and our approach has since been gradually adopted by other firms.