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Many SEAOCC members have been responsible for the design of complex, innovative, and award-winning projects in California and around the globe. Read on to find out about the most recent SEAOCC Excellence in Structural Engineering Award winning projects and other innovative projects designed by local firms! For more information about the Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards and how to apply, please refer to our News and Awards page.

Design Firm: Miyamoto International
Project: Healy Brothers Building

Project Display Board: Healy_Board.pdf
Project Presentation: Healy_Presenation.pptx

On Saturday, January 9th, 2010, at 4:27 p.m., a M6.4 earthquake struck approximately 33 miles from downtown Eureka, in Northern California. While damage from the earthquake was generally minor, a building in Eureka’s historic downtown district, known as the Healy Brothers Building, experienced a partial structural collapse. This 19,800-SF, 3-story, unreinforced brick masonry (URM) building saw a failure in its roof parapet, where approximately 70 feet of the parapet dislodged from the building, and fell through the roof of the neighboring building below.  Fortunately, no one was injured during the event, but the Eureka City Council soon slated the building for demolition.

Constructed in 1908, the building was considered by many to be integral to the fabric of Old Town Eureka.  Kurt Kramer, of Kramer Properties and a longtime friend to Miyamoto, brought Miyamoto into town to investigate the damage and help with his negotiations with the city to allow him to purchase the building and avoid demolition provided he retrofit the building.

Basing analysis on the 2007 CBC and 1994 UCBC, engineers were able to determine that walls in the longitudinal direction were adequate, but additional lateral strength was required in the transverse direction.  Two lines of full height CMU shear walls were added at interior third points to relieve forces on the diaphragm and URM walls. Braced frames were added at the front of the building at the first floor at the weak/soft wall line.  Additionally, the parapet was rebuilt using the fallen historic bricks, and out of plane anchorage was added at the roof and all floors. Additional beams and columns were also added at all levels to allow for increased floor loading, and along the west side of the building, windows were added for light and functionality.

Design Firm: Lionakis
Project: Yountville Town Hall

Project Display Board: Yountville_Board.pdf

The seismic retrofit of the Yountville Town Hall building was a voluntary upgrade initiated by the owner to strengthen the non-compliant lateral system while maintaining the historic exterior. The original construction of the one-story 1930s building entails a wood frame roof with straight 1x6 roof sheeting and hollow clay tile exterior acting as perimeter bearing walls. The exterior finishes include Spanish roof tiles and cement plaster over the hollow clay tiles. The use of hollow clay tile as a building material was a prevalent construction method during this time period and is unfortunately not suitable for bearing walls or shearwalls by modern code standards. 

The mandate for the design team was to provide a code compliant solution to strengthen the structure without changing the exterior visual appearance. The strengthening concept implemented incorporates new 2x6 wood stud walls erected at the interior face of the perimeter walls with anchorage to the hollow clay tile at regular spacing. The 2x6 walls are designed to provide new load path for vertical roof loads, as well as out-of-plane support for the existing hollow clay tile walls. The benefit of this interior wall retrofit design is that the structure is supported independently of the non-compliant perimeter walls. The remaining existing hollow clay tile walls become a veneer which is supported by the new wood stud walls. All-thread rods with epoxy adhesive were used to tie the existing hollow clay tile walls to the new interior stud wall framing. Three different epoxy systems and screen tube assemblies were tested in the existing hollow clay tile walls before selecting the final product. The final result of the retrofit construction is a building structure with enhanced life-safety that preserves the historic fabric of the original architectural design.

Design Firm: Lionakis
Project: Modesto Junior College Science Community Center

Project Display Board: Modesto_JC_Board.pdf
Project Presentation: Modesto_JC_Presentation.pptx

The Modesto Junior College Science Community Center serves as a model for collaborative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and is LEED certified. The project includes four seismically separated buildings: Classroom Wing, Office Wing, Observatory and Planetarium, each with unique structural design challenges.

The four-story Classroom Wing was engineered to stringent floor vibration criteria due to sensitive laboratory equipment and is a special steel moment resisting frame. To minimize vibrations, the floor system is four and a half inches of normal weight concrete over 16 gage W3 steel deck for a total thickness of seven and a half inches. The steel beams and girders were engineered for a 100 pounds per square foot non-reducible live load. The added weight of the structural system made for a challenging seismic design.

The Office Wing is also a special steel moment resisting frame structure. Unique building elements include light gage cantilevered sun shades on the east and south faces and an elevator penthouse spanning the seismic joint between the Classroom and Office Wings. This required that the seismic joint carry through the penthouse and precluded adding braces due to the elevator.

The Observatory required a 23 foot diameter special reinforced concrete shear wall structure, and the telescope is supported by an interior isolated independent steel space frame rising four stories from the foundation.  The 52 foot diameter special reinforced concrete shear wall Planetarium houses the projection machine with a steel fabricated dome roof and cantilevered catwalk around the interior perimeter. An interior projection dome is suspended from the third floor framing. The domed roof is framed with C8 channels rolled to radius and 16 gage HSB deck cut into trapezoidal shapes and pieced between the framing.

Design Firm: Barrish Pelham & Associates, Inc.
Project: New Harmony Community
Project Display Board: New_Harmony_Board.pdf
Project Presentation: New_Harmony_Presentation.pptx

The New Harmony Mutual Housing Community is a multi-family complex located in Davis, California.  The owner, Mutual Housing California, wanted to create an accessible and sustainable community which was also affordable for their residents.  The complex features 69 dwelling units and a community building, all of which are accessible with two centralized elevators.   The community’s three buildings (93,000 square-feet of building area) are constructed of wood framing over post-tensioned slabs on grade.  Building A is a 3,800 square-foot single-story structure.  Building B is 438-feet long, three stories tall, with three structures separated by two seismic joints.  Building C is also a three-story building, is 220-feet long, with two structures separated by a seismic joint.

In an effort to conserve resources, at least 90% of roof and ceiling framing consist of engineered or prefabricated framing. To reduce material consumption the walls at the top floor and interiors are framed with 2x4 studs spaced 24-inches apart in lieu of the standard 16-inch framing bay. The walls were assembled off site to reduce waste and expedite construction.  The window and door headers were specifically sized for load demands instead of being generally specified.

Together with Kuchman Architects and Sunseri Construction this project was certified through the Build It Green program, scoring a GreenPoint Rating of 197 points.  The three building’s east-to-west orientation takes full advantage of the roof-mounted photovoltaic system, which provides approximately 80% of the entire community’s energy demand.  Features like on-demand water heating, Energy Star appliances, gearless elevators, and shading elements over southern windows result in greatly reduced energy consumption. New Harmony not only exceeded California energy conservation requirements by 32-percent, it also received the Green Home of the Year Award as the Best Community Project in 2013.



Highlighted Projects

Do you have a challenging, unique, or otherwise interesting design or research project that you would like to share with the SEAOCC community? We are always interested in hearing about the ways our member firms and organizations are advancing the practice of structural engineering! Please contact the SEAOCC office if you would like to see your project on this webpage.