Project Spotlight

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! 


New Construction

Design Firm:

Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers Inc.



This Project overcame several large challenges, any one of which could have kept the project from being built. These challenges created an opportunity for structural engineers to positively impact the project.

Some of the project challenges included:

  • Extremely high seismic design forces due to close proximity (2km) to the Hayward Fault, an Sds  1.9 was used.

  • A dramatically sloping site; more than 20 feet across the entire length.

  • Rigorous and challenging plan review process with DSA Oakland.

  • Tight project schedule which necessitated early bid packages and material buyouts.

Our Engineering team designed an innovative structural system to meet the extreme needs of the project. The gravity system consisted of composite concrete and metal deck over steel beams and steel columns. The core feature was the lateral system: a high performance Buckling Restrained Brace System (BRBF) to reduce demands on the foundations and therefore significantly reduce costs. With this system we could also provide early buyouts, validate costs and meet the schedule. Our design concept enabled us to deliver the project under budget by $1.5 million and on time.

The basic building organization consists of a series of student-centered learning neighborhoods centered around high-tech specialized laboratory wings supported by shared-use general classrooms on each of the building’s four stories. Given the signi´Čücant slope of the existing site, three of the four stories of the building have direct access to grade. With this connectivity opportunity, the learning neighborhoods have become places of invitation and engagement between the facility and the campus. The aesthetics of the architecture reinforces the curriculum. The success of the Center has created an educational and social experience that will continue to challenge, inspire and create the new heart and energy the campus and community desired.


Historic Preservation

Design Firm:

CYS Structural Engineers, Inc.


Carson Block Building

The rehabilitation of the stately, 19th-century Carson Block Building included a seismic retrofit and restoration of several interior and exterior features.  The project revived one of Eureka’s first commercial buildings and reignited a communal pride in the city’s National Register-listed Historic District.  The 50,000 SF building was built mostly of redwood with terra-cotta panels, brick arches, cast iron columns, and a tall redwood storefront.  Boasting Richardson Romanesque features, a style indicative of east coast refinement, the building was initially a stark contrast to structures that populated Eureka, then still a frontier town.  The Carson Block Building also contained the luxurious 1,400 seat Ingomar Theater, one of the first in the region.  Key structural elements of the project included:

  • Providing strong and stiff lateral force elements behind the all glass south and west walls, that are not visible while preserving the historic fabric in those areas;

  • Stabilizing the full-height north and east masonry walls of the theater;

  • Restoring stability for the north end of the west wall that had been compromised by previous remodeling projects; and

  • Providing a Risk Category III Level renovation design for portions of the building to be occupied during the performances at the future theater.


Special-Use Structures

Design Firm:



Our H2Ouse - Zero Net Energy House

California has experienced the state's hottest drought years on record within these past 10 years. As a result, many of the state's unsustainable water and energy use practices within urban and rural areas have been brought to light and calls for increased water and energy efficiency have been initiated by the state government, such as the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and 2030 Climate Commitment. Based on an analysis of the social, political, economic, and environmental factors involved in the most recent California drought, it was determined that the state can increase its water and energy resilience by fostering a robust, conjunctive management of resources. Such a system aims to increase the general knowledge and sharing of collective as well as individual resource consumption data.

Our H2Ouse demonstrates that greater level of efficiency can be achieved by making the occupants of home the author of their own conservation experience. They will be made aware of their individual water usage in the house and educated in ways to reduce water use whenever possible.

Methods of energy and water saving were implemented from the project outset. Simply by designing smaller, more efficient structures, the building would have inherent water and energy savings. Therefore, the building envelope of the home was designed to be compact, and better insulated than standard framing methods. Additionally, the exterior design of the house and any irrigated plant life on the property will be entirely supported by what the occupants in the house have already used.


New Construction - Award of Merit

Design Firm:



Foothill College Sunnyvale Center

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the new Sunnyvale Education Center represents the first campus extension building to support Foothill College in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. Serving as the redevelopment of the former Onizuka Air Force Station, the building is two stories with a 46,991 square foot floor plan. The east and west wings house classroom and faculty offices and are connected by a central entry core with student resources, gathering spaces, and a coffee shop. The east wing of the building features sweeping roof line curves and open glazing, while the west wing features a more prominent geometry and finishes similar to the Onizuka Air Force Station structures on site.

The structure is steel framed with concrete filled steel floor decks throughout the building. The eastern classroom wing departs from the west wing roof with a radiused high roof deck over an open corridor with exposed roof framing and braced frames spanning across a continuous openings in the main roof deck. The Seismic Force Resisting System for the structure is special concentric steel brace frames utilizing unique in-plane buckling design for the plastic hinge region of the gusset plates.

The foundation of the structure is a two foot thick concrete mat slab under the entire footprint. Prior to constructing the mat slab, a 10 foot high uniform stock-pile of base concrete material, recycled on-site from the demolition of an existing parking garage, was built over the future foundation footprint of the building and monitored until soil settlement had stabilized. This sustainable approach removed costly driven piles from the design.

The Foothill College Sunnyvale Center has set the bar for future development on this expansion campus through a collaborative approach to sustainable practices across all disciplines, including an efficient yet robust structural design.


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.