News

Commemorating David Friedman’s 40-year history with Forell | Elsesser Structural Engineers

David Friedman marked December 31, 2020 as the date to transition from his 40- year career at Forell | Elsesser Engineers, and to focus more on his active leadership in the areas of civic engagement and social advocacy, while enjoying more time with his family – including the new addition, “RBG” the yellow Lab!

“Retirement” is hardly an appropriate word to describe David’s transition plans, as he seems to be more involved than ever in key roles with a multitude of professional and community organizations. He does say he wants to “slow down a bit”, as he continues to explore, learn, play golf, and travel

David started his career with Forell | Elsesser in 1980, working closely with both Nick Forell and Eric Elsesser, the firm’s founding Principals. He developed an appreciation for elegant architecture early in his career. While enjoying his career as a structural engineer, he became increasingly interested in Forell | Elsesser’s practice and what made it so successful. The founding Principals recognized David’s innate leadership attributes and financial acumen, which led to his growth as an Associate and a Principal / Shareholder of the firm, ultimately taking on the firm’s leadership as its CEO in 1998.

David’s leadership role at Forell | Elsesser has been transformative for the firm. During his tenure as the CEO, he cultivated a culture of collaboration and teamwork, both internally and with clients, always emphasizing the “we” and not the” I”. His inclusive leadership style, his quest for equity and diversity, his genuine caring for the staff, and his thoughtful and comprehensive approach to decision making have been inspirational, and have permeated the firm’s culture, leaving a long-lasting impression that is certain to endure for generations to come. His methodical transition planning has also left a framework for healthy leadership transitions to future generations.

In 2007, David stepped aside from his CEO role to focus more of his time and energy on his life-long passion for supporting not-for-profit professional and community organizations, and to create opportunities for the next generation to lead Forell | Elsesser, while he continued to be involved and engaged with the firm as Senior Principal and Chair of the Board for another decade. In more recent years, David has divided his time between his role with the firm, and his leadership roles on the boards of LS&Co., Jewish Home & Senior Living Foundation, SPUR, EERI, Geohazards International, as well as involvement with UC Berkeley Design Review Committee, UCB Chancellor’s Capital Strategies Committee, UCB CEE Advisory Council, UCB CEE Academy of Distinguished Alumni Board, and Stanford Seismic Advisory Committee; in addition to numerous others. David is a role model for giving back to his profession and to the society at large by generously supporting these organizations with his time and resources.

David has contributed to many of our firm’s notable projects. His approach to structural engineering reflects several factors: his respect for elegant architecture, his belief in the power of a great team, and his embodiment of three principles: a comprehensive view of the “problem” and what surrounds it, a drive to develop technically elegant yet buildable solutions, and great business sense. He leveraged the collective talent that existed in the firm to better serve our clients, by challenging his engineering teams, soliciting their best work and ideas, and assembling those ideas into a harmonious solution.

A strong advocate for seismic safety, he has been able to communicate seismic risk to clients in terms that are meaningful to them, guiding them towards a seismic risk mitigation strategy. The most prominent example of David’s engineering M.O. is his decade-long leadership of the seismic renovation of the UC Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium, which presented unprecedented engineering challenges. David proactively engaged the interests of the owner to obtain a full understanding of their goals and the potential obstacles, assembled the most capable technical team, brainstormed and presented multiple solutions, and – in so doing – orchestrated the completion of perhaps the most innovative seismic design solution ever developed.

His other notable projects include Seismic Retrofit of San Francisco City Hall, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Jewish Community Center, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the new Berkeley Art Museum, and Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life.

While David marked December 2020 as his “retirement”, he will continue to be a friend of the firm, as we value his leadership legacy, and cherish his friendship, mentorship, sense of humor, the seemingly endless supply of his good wine, and his contributions to our celebrations as the firm’s first “Poet Laureate”.

With best wishes for David in transitioning to the next chapter of his life,

You can continue reaching David at d.friedman@forell.com

Please take a few minutes to upload a video with your well wishes for David at: www.tribute.co/david-friedman/

Forell | Elsesser Announces New Firm Leadership as it Celebrates its 60 Years of Successful Business

New Structure Lets Leadership Focus on Business, Clients and Projects

September 1, 2020–San Francisco, CA–On its 60th anniversary, San Francisco-based structural engineering firm Forell | Elsesser announced today its transition to the firm’s fourth generation of leaders. The incoming team includes CEO Chris Petteys and COO Rene Vignos, as well as four directors: Director of Business Strategy Allen Nudel, Director of Technical Excellence Steve Marusich, Director of Engineering Operations Geoff Bomba and Director of People Development Carolynn Smith.

In keeping with its legacy of thoughtfully orchestrated successions, Petteys and Vignos, who have been members of the firm’s Executive Committee, succeed Simin Naaseh and Paul Rodler, who served as the firm’s CEO and COO respectively for 13 years. “We began this transition process four years ago, and I have huge confidence in our incoming leadership team,” said Rodler.  Naaseh and Rodler, who will remain actively involved as Senior Principals and serve clients in project leadership roles, will also provide support to the incoming leadership team and the firm’s strategic initiatives. Naaseh is especially committed to mentoring young leaders and developing more female leadership in the firm.

According to CEO Chris Petteys, “The new structure balances responsibilities across the leadership group. We all really enjoy the project work we do—structural engineering is our shared passion. We don’t anticipate any big changes to our roles leading projects and working with clients.”

“We are fortunate to have a team of demonstrated leaders, who are committed to continuing Forell | Elsesser’s legacy and long-standing reputation for innovation and technical excellence. Their fresh perspectives and complimentary skills and interests will be an asset to the firm’s strategic growth and tradition of recruiting and retaining the best talent”, said Naaseh. 

“Staff development is an ongoing priority at Forell | Elsesser where curiosity is a core value”, said Carolynn Smith, Director of People Development, who describes the process as “the Forell | Elsesser lifecycle.”

In addition to the executive leadership transition, Russell Berkowitz has been elevated to the Principal role in recognition of his technical leadership and advisory role with clients over his 21 year tenure with the firm.

About Forell | Elsesser

Founded in 1960 by Nicholas Forell and Eric Elsesser, Forell | Elsesser is a San Francisco-based structural engineering innovator. The firm’s legacy in seismic retrofits of nationally recognized historic structures is complemented by its creative engineering of new complex buildings and other unusual structures across industries and building types. Their work is highlighted in landmarks like LinkedIn’s Middlefield Campus, the retrofit and base isolation of San Francisco and Oakland City Halls, UC Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium and the retrofit and base isolation of Salt Lake City Mormon Temple. Learn more at www.forell.com

F | E’s Lick-Wilmerding High School receives AIA California Award

Forell | Elsesser is proud to announce the AIA California Council 2020 award for the Lick-Wilmerding High School Historic Renovation & Expansion project.

View press release here: aiacalifornia.org/15-design-awards-from-prominent-architecture-association/

With EHDD Architecture as the lead, Forell | Elsesser was pleased to provide new structural designs for existing, new, and renovated structures. The project includes a three-story classroom building, a new one-story administration building, and renovation of existing spaces. The project is committed to net-zero energy use, with the target of either Living Building Challenge Petal Certification or LEED Platinum Certification.

The Forell | Elsesser team included Mason Walters, Geoff Bomba, and Lori Jue.

Forell | Elsesser is Hiring. Join Our Team!

Forell | Elsesser is always interested in hearing from qualified structural engineers at every level. Please send your resume and cover letter to recruiting@forell.com. We’ll keep your information on hand for any opportunities that arise. Tell us who you are and what motivates you. We would love to hear from you.

Currently we are looking for qualified candidates for the following positions:

  • Engineer: We are seeking an individual to join our engineering team.  The successful candidate will be responsible for the design and delivery of quality structural projects from design through construction. Please click here for more details.
  • Structural BIM Modeler: We are seeking an individual to be a contributor to the firm’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) capabilities. The ideal candidate will be a professional who can do production work in a team environment. Please click here for more details.

East Palo Youth Arts & Music Center

Forell | Elsesser was fortunate to work on this exciting and challenging project. The East Palo Alto Youth Arts & Music Center is a 24,000 square foot facility. Read more about this project in the link below.

Article here

Forell | Elsesser’s 10th Year Participating in LEAP Arts in Education – Sandcastle Classic Event 2018

Forell | Elsesser got their feet sandy volunteering for the 36th Annual Largest Sandcastle Competition in Northern California – The Sandcastle Classic! This event takes place every year in the fall on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Money raised benefits LEAP Arts in Education, a program established in 1979 due to severe budget cuts to art programs in California schools. The program places professional artists in classrooms to teach elementary schools about music, dance, theatre, creative writing, visual arts, and architecture. For the Sandcastle Classic event – teams are mostly made up of architects, engineers, designers and contactors who come together to raise money and promote creativity with kids around the Bay Area by building giant impressive sand sculptures!

This year Forell | Elsesser teamed with Bay City Mechanical, HKIT Architects, Vanir Construction Management, Inc., Tipping Structural Engineers and our partnered school – Lawton Alternative School. The Sunset Shellebrators, our team name, created an amazing sand castle themed Atlantis and raised a total of $6,850! F/E Team Captain and Engineer, Andrew Salber volunteered at the event and thinks, “it’s great to see so many people show up to support the local community and have fun in the process. Being involved in events like this reflect well on our company and remind us how rewarding it can be to come together as a team and build things!”

Forell | Elsesser is committed to helping our community in any way we can by volunteering our time, becoming sponsors and raising money to programs for those in need. We have been involved in the LEAP Sandcastle Classic Event for ten years and are honored to support such a great mission and talented leadership.

         

Congratulations to UCB Distinguished Alumni Class of 2018: Mason Walters!

On October 4, 2018 Mason Walters, a Principal at Forell Elsesser Engineers, was inducted into the University of California, Berkeley Academy of Distinguished Alumni’s: Class of 2018. UC, Berkeley has one of the top national rankings for civil and environmental engineering programs. The UC, Berkeley Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) has thousands of successful alumni around the globe that they believe are noteworthy and have contributed greatly to the development both in the US and around the world. We believe this about Mason and so do others! Congratulations on the amazing honor!

DAVID FRIEDMAN (LEFT), MASON WALTERS (RIGHT)

Five Key Promotions Proudly Announced

Forell | Elsesser is proud to announce the promotion of five key personnel!  Geoff Bomba, Principal; Masume Dana, Senior Associate; Carolynn Smith, Director of People Development; Ali Roufegarinejad, Associate; and Mei Kuen Liu, Associate

Geoff Bomba; Principal, joined Forell | Elsesser in 2003 and enjoys creating architecturally-driven solutions for new structures and seismic retrofits of existing buildings. Geoff’s experience includes the full spectrum of structural engineering services and his work includes historic retrofits, institutional, corporate office, public facilities, and seismic isolation projects. Geoff’s recent projects include the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Asian Art Museum Expansion, and has helped multiple Silicon Valley tech companies expand their office spaces. Geoff brings new ideas and technology into the structural design practice, while also leading F/E’s recruiting efforts. Geoff has worked with many nonprofits including Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), and San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR).

Masume Dana; Senior Associate, joined Forell | Elsesser in 2006.  She is a member of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR).  Masume’s expertise in the seismic analysis of structures utilizing advanced computer modeling of buildings has been demonstrated recently on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pixar Animation Studios. Masume is currently working on the seismic retrofit of old Berkeley Art Museum and the Presidio Theater in San Francisco, and several new tech office buildings.

Carolynn Smith; Director of People Development, joined Forell | Elsesser in 2007.  She has worked in the California A/E industry for over 19 years. She works closely with the engineers and project managers to integrate sound, efficient administrative practices.  In addition to her role as Director of People Development, Carolynn also manages the firm’s Human Resources including new hires, internship programs and employee benefits.

Ali Roufegarinejad; Associate and R & D Manager joined Forell | Elsesser in 2011.  Ali has participated in a variety of organizations including Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and Consortium of Organizations for Strong Motion Observations Systems (COSMOS).  Dr. Roufegarinejad has provided service either as an industry advisor or as an investigator during the course of several collaborative research projects at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, and soon at UC Davis as part of a funded PEER-TSRP project. Ali’s expertise in computational mechanics, advanced nonlinear analysis, and seismic isolation has been demonstrated on many of Forell | Elsesser’s complex retrofit projects, including the retrofit design of several base-isolated buildings in the United States as well as the analysis of the first base-isolated building in Canada.

Mei Kuen Liu; Associate, joined Forell | Elsesser in 2011.  Mei is a member of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) and Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI).  Mei has extensive experience with hospitality, casino, commercial, cultural facilities, and transportation projects. Since joining Forell | Elsesser, Mei has been involved in the SFMTA Central Subway Chinatown Station and the UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation building. Mei is currently working on projects at the College of Marin, Cal State East Bay, and the SFPUC.

Masume Dana, Senior Associate

Masume Dana, SE, Senior Associate

Geoff Bomba, Principal

Geoff Bomba, SE, Principal

Ali Roufegarinejad, Associate, R & D Manager

Ali Roufegarinejad, PE, Associate, R & D Manager

Carolynn Smith, Director of People Development

Carolynn Smith, Director of People Development

Mei Liu, Associate

Mei Liu, SE, Associate

Forell | Elsesser Shines at the 27th Annual Structural Forum

Cal Poly-SEAOC Structural Forum 2017

Steve Marusich and Qudsia Wahab had the opportunity to network with many Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students soon to be transitioning from an educational environment to a career in structural engineering. This year’s Structural Forum was suitably themed, “Framing the Future.” The Structural Forum attracts approximately 40 structural engineering firms and hundreds of students. This annual event is hosted by the student chapter of Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC), in conjunction with the Cal Poly Architectural Engineering Department.