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Oral History Series Vol. 18 Eric Elsesser

This oral history covers the life and career of Eric Elsesser, a founding principal of Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc., in San Francisco, one of the most respected consulting engineering firms in the United States. The book reveals a brilliant student, a fruitful professional partnership, the evolution of a solid yet innovative engineering practice over several decades, the inspiration and training of a skilled staff, and the design of a succession within the office that would ensure its continued productive survival.

A native of San Francisco, Elsesser earned his M.S. in structural engineering in 1956 from Stanford University. He spent 50 years studying and designing creative structures and being actively engaged in seismic response studies, earthquake code criteria, and research to determine the appropriate response of buildings to seismic forces. Elsesser’s first special interest was the structural configuration of buildings; he was instrumental in getting it better recognized in building codes. He was a pioneer in implementing new structural systems, such as base isolation, that would dissipate seismic energy.

Elsesser would talk about—and draw—architectural/structural concepts in a way that few engineers were able to do. The oral history contains five pages of his sketches of structural forms and seismic systems, often generated quickly as he brainstormed in conversation. He collaborated with nonengineers on presentations and publications explaining seismic design for architects.

Forell/Elsesser Engineers has completed over 2,500 structures, including such notable examples as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the San Francisco Asian Art Museum; and the seismic retrofits of the city halls of Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Oakland. 2010, 107 pages, ISBN 978-1-932884-47-0

This Oral History is also available as a Free PDF.
(This file is "view only". You won't be able to copy or print from this file.)

The intent of the EERI oral history project is to publish a series of interviews with prominent figures in the field of earthquake engineering to preserve some of the rich history of those who have pioneered in shaping seismic design theory and practice.

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