David is a Senior Principal, and emeritus President, CEO and Board Chair of Forell/Elsesser Engineers Inc., with over 40 years of professional practice (35 years at F/E!) in structural and earthquake engineering. His strength, gained over the breadth and depth of his career, is a holistic perspective of a projects’ planning, design and construction and the collaborative integration of creative structural solutions with architects, engineers and builders.
With a specialty in seismic engineering and retrofitting of existing structures, particularly those with historic designation, David has solved numerous structural and earthquake engineering challenges during his career with Forell/Elsesser Engineers. Principal examples of his projects include the base isolation retrofits of San Francisco City Hall and the Asian Art Museum, the adaptive reuse and retrofit for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the seismic safety corrections and remodeling of UC Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium.
David is devoted to world-wide seismic risk reduction and is a former director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and a current director of Build Change. He is also deeply involved in many other civic, philanthropic and not-for-profit Boards including The San Francisco Foundation, SPUR, UC Berkeley Foundation, Jewish Senior Living Group, Faultline Foundation and the United States Resiliency Council (USRC).
I credit EERI for profoundly broadening my professional career as a structural and earthquake engineer. Perhaps I had “engineering blinders” on early in my career, as I moved from design project to design project, limited to a building-by-building “vison” of my profession. Through EERI, I was the beneficiary of being on an incredible growth curve as I was “learning from earthquakes.” I went from being “just” a structural engineer to having an appreciation for the multi-disciplinary world of earthquake risk mitigation. I went from a very parochial viewpoint to a global perspective. And there was even a social justice lens: Just as an earthquake has an uncanny ability to hit the weak link in a structure, natural hazards seem to always hit the poorest and most-disenfranchised communities, cities and countries.
If I have a simplistic vision for EERI it would be to continue to strengthen the Institute’s programs to broaden and deepen the multi-disciplinary and global platform for earthquake risk education and mitigation. My hope is that all members will credit EERI with a similar growth to their careers.
I am a firm believer in not trying to fix that which is not broken. EERI has a robust portfolio of projects, programs, and publications which are singularly focused on educating and supporting the diverse EERI membership. Learning from Earthquakes, the Concrete Coalition, the World Housing Encyclopedia, and the Initiative Development Committee, to name just a few, are examples of thriving activities of the Institute. However, we must be willing to adapt and innovate in response to both the challenges and the opportunities that present themselves. And always with the primary filter of their value and relevancy to the EERI membership.
EERI needs to continue to sharpen its focus on creating resilient cities across the globe, and to use our skillset on technical and policy issues that will further make our cities robust, sustainable and seismically safe.