2015 Summit

The 2015 Strengthening Our Cities SEAOSC Summit was a huge success!

SEAOSC, in partnership with BOMA Greater Los Angeles (Building Owners and Managers Association), CALBO (California Building Officials), and SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments) was proud to present the Strengthening Our Cities Summit for the 5th consecutive year and to the largest turnout to date with over 350 attendees over two days! The new two-day format allowed for a technical discussion targeted towards structural engineers on Day 1 (November 4) and a broader overview for building owners and government officials on Day 2 (November 5).

The Summit brought engineering, government, and business together to educate those present on the latest tools, techniques, and proposals related to building seismic stability and to move forward the discussion on the need for more resilient communities. Trends and best practices for building owners, businesses, and government in addressing existing buildings built before the latest code were also highlighted and discussed. At the forefront of discussions was the new mandatory building retrofit ordinance by the City of Los Angeles, which requires the retrofit of wood-frame soft-story buildings within 7 years and the retrofit of non-ductile concrete buildings within 25 years.

SEAOSC and SEAOC Past-President Michael Cochran of Thornton Tomasetti opened the November 4 program with an overview presentation on vulnerable buildings.

Day 1 explored the types of vulnerable buildings, discussed the code resources available, and provided clear design examples for wood and concrete buildings. The Day 1 audience also learned techniques for communicating risk from Dr. Michele Wood of Cal State Fullerton and heard the building owner’s perspective on a panel featuring Melanie Colbert from LBA Realty and Antonio Rubbo from MacFarlane Partners as well as the engineers’ side from SEAOSC Past-President Joe LaBrie of MakeItRight and SEAOSC Immediate Past-President Kevin O’Connell of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. The day concluded with a SEAOSC-CALBO reception to toast the developing partnership between the two.

The luncheon panel featured discussion of risk communication moderated by Annie Kao of Simpson Strong-Tie. Panelists were (from left to right): SEAOSC Past-President Joe La Brie of Make It Right, Melanie Colbert of LBA Realty, SEAOSC Immediate Past-President Kevin O’Connell of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Antonio Rubbo of Macfarlane Partners and Dr. Michele Wood of Cal State – Fullerton.

The second day of the Summit opened with the New Zealand Consulate-General, the Honorable Leon Grice, who gave a personal account of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, the economic meaning of building safe communities, and the critical role that structural engineers play in spreading the message that costs for better engineering detailing are little compared to the potential benefits. Following the keynote, two panel sessions explored the value in building a stronger, safer city as well as how to build a more resilient city and featured distinguished guests Kevin Keller and Marissa Aho from Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s office, Dr. Lucy Jones from USGS, Ron Takiguchi from the City of Santa Monica, Raj Patel from the City of Beverly Hills, Charlie Hobey from Equity Partners and President of BOMA-Greater LA, Heather Rosenberg from the US Green Building Council, and Chris Smith from the SoCal Disaster Risk Reduction initiative. To close the day, Dr. Keith Porter of the University of Colorado at Boulder gave a lunch presentation for building owners on how to understand your building’s seismic risk and how to evaluate it.

The Summit would not have been possible without the amazing contributions of all the distinguished speakers and panelists from across many different sectors as well as the countless volunteer hours from the members of the Summit Steering Committee, co-chaired by Victoria Wigle and Annie Kao, the Existing Buildings and Seismology Committees, who continue to develop the soft-story wood and non-ductile concrete examples, event consultant John Bwarie, and BSC management. Thank you for the continued support of our industry sponsors including Gold Sponsors ICC-ES and Simpson Strong-Tie, as well as our many Silver and Bronze Sponsors who can be found on the Summit’s website (www.seaoscsummit.org). We look forward to continuing the conversation about building more resilient cities through California and working together to achieve safer communities.

(From left to right) CALBO’s David Khorram of City of Long Beach, SEAOSC President Michelle Kam-Biron of American Wood Council, CALBO President Raj Patel of City of Beverly Hills, and CALBO Vice President Ron Takiguchi of City of Santa Monica pose for a quick picture while conversing between sessions.

Michael Mehrain of Mehrain Naeim International presents during the Engineers’ Retrofit Toolkit session. Mike Braund of Degenkolb and David Mar of Mar Structural Design (seated at the onstage table) also spoke on methodologies for evaluating and retrofitting existing buildings

The “How to Build a Resilient Community” panel was moderated by Los Angeles’ Chief Resilience Officer Marissa Aho (far left) and featured discussion from panelists (from left to right) Ron Takiguchi of City of Santa Monica, Dr. Lucy Jones of USGS, and BOMA-Greater LA President Charlie Hobey of Equity Partners

The November 4 afternoon sessions featured technical examples developed by the SEAOSC Seismology and Existing Buildings Committees. Above are Existing Buildings Committee presenters (from left to right) Chair Daniel Zepeda of Degenkolb, David Funk of John Labib + Associates, Garrett Hagen of Degenkolb, Andy Alexander of John Labib + Associates, and Russell McLellan of Partner Engineering and Science.

Presenting Sponsor


Silver Sponsors




Bronze Sponsors

Sika Group
Brandow & Johnston, INC
MHP, Inc. Structural Engineers
Englekirk Structural Engineers


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