Santa Clara University Leavey Events Center

A university arena that was intended to be utilized for both sports and events/conferences required a deep understanding of the project.


Customized Solution

  • The SCU arena is primarily used for the school’s basketball and volleyball teams but is also utilized for conferences and other large events. The project included the renovation of the existing building shell structure including a new roof and window walls. Also included was a major expansion of a new, 50,000 s.f., three-story space for offices. New fixed bleachers, executive suites, locker rooms, and conference rooms were among other architectural improvements.
  • The second phase was highlighted by a complete reconstruction of the east side of the building which created athletic department offices, a weight room, an academic center, team rooms, a video control room, new upper-level seating, and a suite that overlooks the court – a 43,000 s.f. addition spanning four-stories of the University’s 28-year-old sports complex.

San Francisco Olympic Club

In busy downtown San Francisco, the simultaneous historic renovation of the oldest athletic club in the nation along with its new, 10-story sister facility made this project a huge task, with extensive excavation, construction challenges, and careful seismic modernization.


Customized Solution

  • The renovation of the historic 1910, brick masonry structure included accommodating 18 new hotel rooms and other programming. The upper two floors were completely removed and replaced while maintaining the existing outer historic masonry walls. Among many structural improvements, the project team modernized the interior including the pool with its signature, majestic skylights.
  • The new, 10-story sister facility contains a swimming pool with a movable bottom, locker rooms, a gymnasium, and seven levels of parking (one below grade). The building extends 70 feet below and 90 feet above grade. Working in a very tight, urban site with adjacent buildings on 3 property lines, the structure required complex underpinning and shoring of the adjacent structures and soil during excavation and construction.
  • Forell | Elsesser provided prompt guidance when faced with multiple unforeseen conditions, allowing the project to stay on schedule with minimized costs. When existing foundations of the historic building were uncovered, several deviations from the original plans were present, requiring fast design revisions. Then, just two months before the publicized grand opening, severely corroded reinforcement was uncovered demanding extensive exploration and repair that the project team designed and implemented in a tight time frame.

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.

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.