USF, John Lo Schiavo, S.J. Center for Science and Innovation

Forell | Elsesser provided structural engineering services for the new construction of this 60,000 s.f. laboratory and classroom building. The project includes a 3-story above grade studio building and a 1-story underground plaza structure containing laboratory space, classroom, observatory, greenhouse, and support spaces.


Customized Solution

  • The structure is cast-in-place concrete with post-tensioned concrete beams. Concrete shear walls are used for seismic protection.
  • The new building will connect with the adjacent Science Center at various levels, including an underground connection corridor.
  • Skylights provide natural daylight for the underground structure.

UCSF Mission Bay Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Hall

As one of the first buildings built on the new UCSF Mission Bay campus, Rock Hall broke new ground in speed of construction and adoption of a then-new seismic technology from Japan.

Customized Solution

  • As one of the first buildings built in the Mission Bay area, the five-story, 165,000 s.f. Rock Hall incorporated several innovations balancing economy of construction with the seismic performance desired for an institutional client such as UCSF.  The building is supported on a precast pile foundation through approximately 100 feet of bay mud deposits.  By only connecting select pile caps with grade beams and designing the ground floor slab as two-way, the foundation concrete volume was reduced, excavation was reduced, and schedule time in constructing the slab was also shortened.
  • UCSF expressed a need for good seismic performance to protect their investment in the building.  On this project we worked directly with Nippon Steel in Japan to design and procure Buckling-Restrained Braces for the building.  While this technology was brand new to California seismic engineering practice, we were able to get the new system approved, resulting in a building with better than average seismic performance for a cost comparable with the more standard bracing systems in use in the bay area at that time.  Within a few years of this project the popularity of the BRBF system exploded resulting in local US fabricators beginning to make their own version of the BRB in the US.  This system remains as one of the standard economical choices of seismic system for a steel building.
  • As details for the seismic system were developed, we decided to design all the seismic connections as all-bolted instead of the more traditional method of field-welding all these joints.  This innovation allowed the majority of welding to occur in the fabrication shop instead of the field, resulting in a two month savings in steel erection time which translated to an overall building schedule reduction as well.  By doing a majority of the welding in the shop, the quality control of the welding is more uniform and allows for lower inspection costs for the owner in the shop and the field.
  • The main atrium stair had long cantilevered spans which were susceptible to excessive vibrations causing a central column to be installed to reduce movement.  The introduction of this column required that the connections of the stair to the floor line remain clamped under gravity loading, but release and slide under larger seismic drifts in the building.  We designed a custom connection with brake pad material that allows this unique behavior to occur reliably.

UC Santa Cruz Porter College Residence B Retrofit & Additions

Forell | Elsesser served as the Executive Prime Design Professional and Structural Engineer of Record for this dormitory renovation. The project scope included seismic evaluation, seismic upgrade design, major maintenance upgrade, and a 1-story steel-framed vertical addition to this existing 4-story cast-in-place concrete residence hall building built in the 1970s. The end result was increased capacity of the building from 83,000 s.f. and 314 beds to 102,700 s.f. and 448 beds. As Prime, Forell | Elsesser managed over 12 sub-consultant disciplines including Architecture, MEP, and others. This project achieved LEED Silver Certification.


Customized Solution

  • The seismic upgrade consists of additional concrete shear walls, strengthened foundations, and steel collectors.  The shear walls were arranged so that there was no loss of beds or interruption of circulation.
  • This project had an extremely aggressive schedule of 24 months, governed by the academic calendar, for the design and construction of the seismic retrofit and improvements. Toward the end of the Construction Documents phase, the University decided on a one-story vertical addition to this 4-story building.  Our team did a remarkable job by accommodating such a major design change in an already tight schedule- making the impossible happen.
  • During construction, Forell | Elsesser led pre-construction meetings, attended weekly construction OAC meetings, processed submittals and requests for information, coordinated and gathered documentation, reviewed and monitored project schedules with the Contractor, Owner, and provided final punch list, walkthroughs, and record documents.
  • The vertical addition was possible with minimal foundation work due to the creative and strategic demolition and replacement of the existing roof with little net increase in building weight.

UC Santa Cruz Porter College Residence A Retrofit & Additions

Forell | Elsesser provided structural engineering services for the seismic evaluation, retrofit, and 2-story vertical addition for this existing 110,000 s.f. 4-story, cast-in-place concrete dormitory building constructed in 1970. The new steel-framed vertical addition increases the total number of beds from 248 to 425.  This project achieved LEED Silver Certification.


Customized Solution

  • The overall scope included a seismic upgrade with additional concrete shear walls, steel braced frames, steel collectors, and foundations.
  • In order to add the additional floors, the project required the demolition of the existing concrete framed roof, fan rooms, and fourth-floor interior construction.  The vertical addition was possible with minimal foundation work due to the creative and strategic demolition and replacement of the existing roof with little net increase in building weight.
  • Having just completed the similar Porter B project, the design and construction of this project went very smoothly by incorporating the lessons learned, as well as a great design team and builder synergy.

UC Merced Classroom & Office Building

Forell | Elsesser provided structural engineering services for one of the original UC Merced buildings.


Customized Solution

  • As part of the first new campus in the U.C. system in 40 years, this classroom and office building was designed with a high degree of flexibility to serve the needs of the University now and in the future.
  • The 90,000 s.f. building houses a 360-seat auditorium, lecture halls, classrooms, computer labs, incubator space, multi-media, studio art spaces, faculty, and graduate student offices.
  • The facility serves as a distance learning center, affording all citizens, regardless of their proximity to a U.C. campus, the availability to higher education.
  • The project achieved LEED Gold