Leadership in Engineering


MKA’s research of today is setting the standards of tomorrow by improving constructability, increasing safety and reliability, generating scientific data to back up untested theories, and contributing to industry code development.
MKA developed and tested a high-performance blast-resistant glazing façade.
For an outside wooden pavilion at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, MKA collaborated with the American Plywood Association to develop a new type of glu-lam member.
Seattle’s Green Roof Evaluation Project, pioneered by MKA, analyzed the environmental benefits of green roof systems.

At any point in time, MKA is involved in multiple research efforts, independently or collaboratvely with Universities and other partners. We undertake this research for a variety of reasons:  to verify performance of "first-ever" project innovations, to test new materials or applications, to document reliability for code approval, and/or to contribute to the overall body of industry knowledge. For example, the United States Courthouse in Seattle features a first-of-its-kind steel plate shear wall (SPSW) that underwent rigorous research. MKA collaborated with NBBJ, the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction, the University of California Berkeley, and the General Services Administration to develop and test this new system (pictured above, stressed to buckling). The system, proven to resist gravity, wind, and earthquake forces, is 30% faster to construct and 10% less expensive than traditional systems and gives the industry a new method of creating strong buildings with thinner core walls that consume less space.

Advancing the Industry

Knowing that construction speed is often dictated by concrete curing time, MKA is pioneering a new core wall system comprising concrete sandwiched between two steel plates. This composite system (pictured above left) allows construction on higher floors to proceed more quickly, as the support of the steel reduces the need to wait for the concrete to cure.

Simplifying Link Beam Construction

Through a research collaboration with the University of California Los Angeles, MKA developed a new method of reinforcing concrete "link beams" that dramatically reduces the complexity of reinforcing within the beams. This new method (pictured above right) greatly improving constructability in what has historically been one of the most congested areas of reinforcement in concrete building construction.

Creating Transparent Blast Protection

MKA developed and tested a high-performance blast-resistant glazing facade that counteracts blast pressures through ductility and energy dissipation. The system reduces ten-fold effective blast pressures on the glazing and support structure, providing a cost-effective, transparent design solution.

Pioneering Wood Applications

When the architect’s vision for a dramatic outdoor wood pavilion challenged existing technologies, MKA worked with the design team to develop a new type of glu-lam member; engaged the American Plywood Association to test and determine bending, shear, and stiffness values; and collaborated with the fabricator to simplify creation and installation.

Evaluating Effectiveness of Green Roof Systems

Conceived of by MKA and co-funded by four private-sector developers, the Seattle Green Roof Evaluation Project monitored and quantified the environmental benefits provided by green roofs. Utilizing evaluation software developed by MKA, the award-winning undertaking validated benefits, outlined best management practices for stormwater, and contributed scientific support to the City of Seattle.

Projects Benefitting from R&D:
Additional Info on MKA Research: