UC Berkeley California Memorial Stadium Seismic Upgrade

When tasked with retrofitting a national landmark that sits directly atop the Hayward faultline,  Forell | Elsesser worked closely with architects, contractors, geologists, and the owner to design a customized structural solution to accommodate the inevitable movement of the fault while maintaining the structural integrity of the stadium—all in time for the next football season!


Customized Solution

  • Originally built in 1923 and designed by John Galen Howard this 70,000-seat stadium, which also houses several administrative offices and serves as the headquarters for football operations, straddles the active Hayward fault.  Forell | Elsesser designed a custom solution that involved breaking the seating bowl into discrete “fault rupture zone blocks” (FRB), where the fault crosses so that these portions of the building could move in response to possible surface rupture without affecting the rest of the structure. The FRB’s are reinforced with concrete shear walls on a monolithic flat mat slab foundation, all bearing on a plastic membrane to reduce friction, thus facilitating the independent twisting and tilting that may result from the possible 6 feet of horizontal and 2 feet of vertical fault movement.
  • One of the signature architectural features of the Stadium is a two-story, 375-foot long press box hovering above the west side of the seating bowl. This press box will not only house print, radio, and TV media, but will also have a club space with views and seating facing the field as well as a dramatic 25’ cantilever balcony that faces campus with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate beyond.
  • Working on a tight, 20-month schedule, the team created a phasing of construction that allowed continued use of critical parts of the facilities throughout the construction process. The athletics offices and facilities were located in the existing stadium, so the first step was to build a new athletics building to allow movement of this staff out of the stadium during its reconstruction. With this approach, the football team will be back to playing in their home stadium after only one season out.
  • Learn more about the stadium’s innovative design in our Case Study section.

Cal State East Bay Student Services & Administration Building

Occupying a gateway area, this building provides a distinctive modern landmark. With innovative buckling restrained braced frames, it’s designed to withstand earthquakes.


Customized Solution

  • This new 100,000 s.f. building was the first step in creating a new space for academic rooms, administrative offices, and student services that were previously housed in Warren Hall. The four-story, steel-frame structure uses innovative buckling restrained braced frames, which will dissipate seismic energy during large earthquakes, making it a more seismically secure space for faculty and students.
  • A large notch in the middle of the building was designed to allow for more natural light and required particular problem-solving, as it created a break in the middle of the structure. The notch aesthetically increases the architectural variety of the building’s exterior and showcases the architect’s unique vision for this stunning structure.

UCSF Mission Bay William J. Rutter Center

This large Community Center combines the open layout of the architectural vision with acoustic sensitivity and seismic strength.


Customized Solution

  • This 150,000 s.f., 5-story structure sitting on a deep foundation system houses a suspended swimming pool, gymnasium, assembly hall, fitness center, convention center, locker rooms, food court, and offices.
  • With large, open spaces throughout the center, attention to seismic performance was a necessity. This issue was addressed by using high performance buckling restrained braced frames (BRBF) as the seismic stabilizing system.
  • The building layout required stacking the gymnasium and pool over an acoustically sensitive auditorium. This was achieved by isolating the concrete floor of the gymnasium while constructing the ceiling of the auditorium to dampen sound. With this design, students can play basketball upstairs without keeping the academic conference room below abreast of the score.

University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry

Using non-linear analysis to get the most out of the existing structure, this 1970’s office building is being transformed into a modern, urban campus with classrooms, conference rooms, and a stylish new exterior.


Customized Solution

  • Formerly used as an office building and data center, this 350,000 s.f. 7-story, steel-framed building with one level of underground parking is being renovated to become the new home for the UOP Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, plus two floors of market-rate office space. Offices, clinics, classrooms, a large auditorium, small conference rooms, new elevators, and escalators for University staff and students will be included in the extensive renovation.
  • Non-linear response history analysis has played a key role in determining how this tall building would perform in a large seismic event if much of its existing components remained. By using as much of the existing building possible, the project team significantly reduced the seismic retrofit cost so those funds could be spent elsewhere.
  • In order to insert a large new auditorium on the ground floor of the building, pairs of steel transfer trusses were inserted on the second floor to allow the removal of two columns. Per our design, the trusses were loaded and the columns were cut with almost no temporary shoring required.
  • The current window-wall exterior is being replaced, and a reworking of the building’s entry to make the entrance more visible, accessible, and inviting to pedestrian traffic is being executed.