History

Forell/Elsesser Engineers is a structural engineering firm founded by structural engineers, Nicholas Forell and Eric Elsesser, in 1960. The company is headquartered in San Francisco’s Financial District.

Nicholas Forell was born in Germany in 1923. A graduate of Brown University, Forell moved to San Francisco and joined the architecture and engineering firm of John Lyon Reid and Partners (later called Reid, Rockwell, Banwell, and Tarics) and became Chief Engineer. Forell started his own practice in 1960. Eric Elsesser, a San Francisco native and Stanford University graduate, worked for the established firm of John Blume and Associates (now part of URS) in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Forell and Elsesser, longtime friends and collaborators, merged their practices in 1969. Forell served as the first President of the firm, followed by Elsesser until the early 1990’s. David Friedman was President of the firm from 1994 until 2007. Simin Naaseh is the current President and CEO of the company.

Forell/Elsesser helped pioneer the use of “base isolation” for seismic retrofit applications in the United States with projects such as the Salt Lake City and County Building, San Francisco City Hall, Oakland City Hall, and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. The company made its mark in the 1960’s and 1970’s with innovative structural designs for K-12 schools and corporate campuses in the Bay Area. The legacy continued into the 1980’s and 1990’s with high profile projects such as the Pacific Gas & Electric Headquarters seismic retrofit, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Berkeley Civic Center seismic retrofit, the Pasadena City Hall and Utah State Capital historic seismic retrofits, and many new buildings at San Francisco International Airport, including the BART station. More recent projects include the UC Berkeley California Memorial Stadium seismic retrofit, SFMTA Central Subway Chinatown Station, UCSF Parnassus Ray & Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building, and the new UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.

Forell/Elsesser works in many major market sectors including higher education, healthcare, science and technology, athletic facilities, civic and government, museums and cultural facilities, commercial and office, multi-family and student housing, transportation, historic retrofits, tenant improvements, and unusual structures.

List of Firsts:

  • First Existing/Historic Building Base Isolation Retrofit Project in the World (Salt Lake City and County Building)
  • First Tall Building Base Isolation Retrofit Project (Oakland City Hall Seismic Rehabilitation)
  • First Largest Historic Building Base Isolation Retrofit (San Francisco City Hall Seismic Retrofit)
  • First Architecturally-Exposed High Volume Fly Ash Sustainable Concrete Mix Application in California (UC Berkeley Barker Hall Seismic Upgrade)
  • First LEED Innovation & Design Credit for an Innovative Seismic System (UCSF Parnassus Ray & Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine)
  • First State of California-owned Building to Utilize Seismic Isolation Technology (Caltrans Traffic Operations/CHP Communications Center)
  • First Multi-Level Transportation Structure in the World to be designed for Immediate Occupancy following a Maximum Credible Earthquake (San Francisco International Airport Concourse H BART Station)
  • First LEED Platinum Civic Center in the Nation (Portola Valley Town Center)
  • First LEED Certified Hospital in California (Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center – LEED Silver)
  • First approval of Buckling Restrained Braced Frames (BRBF) by the Division of the State Architect (DSA) Oakland Regional Office (De Anza College Mediated Learning Center)
  • #1 Ranked State of California firm for OSHPD Structural Plan Checking (2011-2013)