What’s Happening at MKA

12.04.2015 — Congratulations to our own Jon Magnusson, who on Friday was presented with the Inaugural ENR NW Legacy Award celebrating his career of engineering contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Jon has been involved in the most significant buildings in Seattle over the past 20 years, including Benaroya Hall, EMP, Seattle Central Library, Washington State Convention Center, Safeco Field, and CenturyLink Field, to name just a few.

As Ron Klemencic stated — Magnusson took “a firm with a rich legacy of creativity in the 1950s and 1960s and leveraged it, propelling it to an even higher level. He polished it, focused it and brought in the talent required to carry that legacy forward.”

Jon continues to mentor the next generation of leaders in engineering both internally at MKA and also in the industry through his speaking engagements and his involvement in establishing the local branch of the ACE Mentor Program which exposes high school students in Seattle’s Puget Sound area to potential career opportunities in the architecture, construction and engineering professions. Our sincere congratulations to Jon!

» JDM Accepts ENR NW Legacy Award

10.19.2015 — Team MKA participated in the 2015 Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk this past Saturday at Seattle Center. Combining individual donations and an office-wide bake sale, the team exceeded their fundraising goal of $1000. As you can see, the baking presentations got creative with Rice Krispies Treats stacked as a replica of one of our projects, SkyRise Miami.

» Team MKA at the 2015 Puget Sound Heart Walk

10.13.2015 — MKA is certainly familiar with engineering in Chicago. Our projects currently under construction include 150 N. Riverside, 200 N. Michigan, River Point Tower, and the McCormick Place Marriott Hotel — to name just a few. But on the horizon are a collection of supertall high-rises which will be among the 20 tallest buildings in Chicago (pictured above, l-r: Wanda Vista, 113 E. Roosevelt, and 1000 S. Michigan.

What about Chicago’s reputation as the “Windy City,” you ask? MKA brings to these projects decades of high-rise design coupled with advanced wind and damping engineering. Our analytical tools predict human perception to motion for a given wind environment. Based on this information, targeted strength and damping elements are incorporated into the structural system to control wind-induced movement and keep occupants comfortable. MKA has designed more than 225 buildings over 30 stories tall, including many in hurricane- and typhoon-prone regions substantiated by MKA field-monitored tall building results.

These supertall designs will make their mark on Chicago’s famed skyline in the coming years.

» Supertall High-Rises on Chicago’s Horizon

09.22.2015 — MKA’s Panama Museum of Biodiversity, a project we partnered on with Frank Gehry, is this month’s featured cover story for the September 2015 issue of ASCE’s Civil Engineering magazine. The article offers an interesting and colorful review of the structural elements of the museum, described by Robert Reid as having an “eclectic aesthetic” design approach. Jay Taylor, Senior Principal at MKA and leader of the Cultural, Civic, and Education Specialist Groups, provides insight as the structural engineering Principal-in-Charge on the project, and relates how MKA worked to bring the vision of the architect alive and overcome the structural design complexities. This project, a prime example of MKA’s continued leadership in engineering, was designed entirely in 3D to achieve the intricate interior configuration and the 16 separate geometric roofs. The Museum opened to the public last fall and is considered the first museum focused on biodiversity. Click the link below to read the full article and learn more about this unique project.

More Information...

» Panama Museum of Biodiversity is Featured on the Cover of ASCE

09.02.2015 — MKA’s Matt Jones, a civil engineering Principal, will be presenting on decentralized sewage treatment at the 30th Annual WateReuse Symposium in Seattle. Along with Eric Lohan of Sustainable Water, Matt will discuss the economic and environmental issues surrounding such technology, as well as why it might be the perfect fit for urban projects around the world.

With water scarcity being at the forefront of many discussions right now, the WateReuse Symposium is the perfect opportunity to find out more about water reuse, something MKA has been developing for years on projects like the San Ysidro U.S. Land Port of Entry.

» MKA’s Matt Jones Presenting at WateReuse Symposium

08.31.2015 — If you live in the Seattle area, you know this past Saturday’s weather was a bit hectic with wind and rain.... however, our amazing MKA Community Service Team spent the day at Lake Samm Foursquare Church building a sensory playground, nature trail, activity panels, tricycle storage, playground seating and fences.

The centerpiece of the playground is a large octopus made of concrete with mosaic and tactile surfaces. Cleverly, the head of the octopus covers a tree stump in the middle of the playground area that would have been tough to remove. These spaces were designed to engage children on the autism spectrum, specifically a group called FEAT of Washington (Families for Effective Autism Treatment), just one of the many groups that Lake Samm hosts at their location.

Again this year we partnered with Seattle Works for logistics and coordination. We are thankful to Katie Tiehen for all her help and Lake Samm for their support and day-of snacks that kept the team going! We will return this week to put finishing touches on — and sincerely look forward to seeing the kids put their new playground and nature trail to use.

» MKA’s 2015 Community Service Project

08.17.2015 — It’s the talk of the town and has been called "Chicago’s most spectacular engineering show."  Here’s your chance to see it up close as the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) hosts a FREE lunch/presentation and site tour of 150 North Riverside. The event is on Friday, August 28, beginning at 11:15 a.m., and leaders from MKA will be on hand, as well as Zalk Josephs Fabricators and Chicago Steel Construction to give insight on the innovative structural solutions for this project.

Please visit the AISC website here for more information and to RSVP.

Photo: Riverside Investment & Development Company

» AISC Tour of 150 N. Riverside

07.31.2015 — It was another successful year for MKA participating in Food Lifeline’s Food Frenzy fundraiser! MKA raised over $6,100 during two weeks of fun office events which included a bean bag toss competition, arcade games, bowling, jeopardy, a spare change contest, a beer brewing contest, the cutest pet contest and several raffles.

A new addition to the fun this year was a full-size cut out of Justin Bieber who made the rounds to desks in exchange for donations.

MKA also participated in two volunteer nights at the Shorline warehouse of Food Lifeline packaging meals. A special thank you to this year’s MKA staff who organized the events. Food Frenzy overall included 94 participating organizations and over 3.1 million meals provided for those in need.

» MKA Food Frenzy 2015

07.23.2015 — With Seattle in the midst of a building boom, KIRO Radio’s Jillian Rafterty was interested to know how safe cranes are in the event of an earthquake.  She spoke to MKA’s Director of Earthquake Engineering, John Hooper, P.E., S.E., to find our more.

Listen to the interview here.

John, a who was named a fellow to the American Society of Civil Engineers, applies his specialized seismic knowledge and advanced understanding of structural vibrations to design efficient and economical facilities to extremely high performance standards.

» MKA’s Director of Earthquake Engineering Speaks to KIRO Radio

07.01.2015 — The Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI) recently announced their selections of the Fifty Significant Projects designed by SEAOI members over the last 50 years.  MKA is proud to have engineered three of these projects.  Pictured from left to right: Aqua, 111 South Wacker and 300 East Randolph (Vertical Completion Project).

» SEAOI Fifty Significant Projects in Fifty Years

06.22.2015 — Congratulations to Peter Somers, P.E., S.E. who was recognized by the Structural Engineers Association of Washington (SEAW) as the 2015 Seattle Chapter Engineer of the Year. Peter was honored at the Chapter’s Annual Awards event held Monday, June 22nd. 

Peter is a Principal at MKA working on a variety of project types including office, residential and retail. He also specializes in seismic evaluations, renovations, and expansion of existing structures, including historic and landmark buildings. Peter has contributed to SEAW by serving on several committees as well as being a member of the Board of Directors and current Past President.  We congratulate Peter on such a great honor!

Photo Credit: J Mark D’Amato

» Peter Somers SEAW Structural Engineer of the Year

06.06.2015 — Saturday, June 6th the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI) held their annual Excellence in Structural Engineering awards ceremony.

MKA was pleased to be the recipient of the award for "Best Project >$150 million" for Levi’s Stadium. Judge’s comments included, "Creating a design solution which allowed the construction of 1 billion dollars of work at such a pace is truly impressive." This is the 13th time in 14 years that MKA has won a top SEAOI award.

Also during the evening, MKA Chairman and CEO, Ron Klemencic, received the John F. Parmer Award, which "honors a structural engineer whose distinguished career was acknowledged by his peers to be an example of excellence."

Celebrating the evening were MKA Chicago staff including Senior Principal and Chicago Office Leader, David Eckmann, Adam Theiss, Bethany Myelle, Lucas Cusack, Haley Gunst and their guests.

» SEAOI Awards 2015

06.03.2015 — On June 3rd, MKA’s Jon Magnusson, Derek Beaman, Bill Christopher, and the MKA ACE Mentors were on hand at the Industry Leaders Reception, where nine local high school students were awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships.  The students, who are graduating from the ACE Program, will study architecture, engineering, or construction management next year at college.

MKA, along with LMN Architects, was pleased to present Haley Baquian from Inglemoor High School with a scholarship for her studies next year at California Polytechnic State University.

MKA is a Platinum Sponsor of the ACE Program with Jon Magnusson serving as President and Bill Christopher as Treasurer.  MKA engineering staff also served as mentors for two of the four Seattle ACE teams this year.  Congratulations to all of this year’s participants and scholarship winners!

To read more about the ACE program, please visit their website here.

» MKA ACE Platinum Sponsor and Scholarship Winner

05.27.2015 — Wednesday, May 27th was the Final Presentation Night for the ACE Mentor Program of Seattle, the culmination of eight months of hard work between high school students and their design industry mentors.

This year, the students were tasked with designing a museum for the Seattle Waterfront. The students worked with their mentors from the architecture, engineering, and construction disciplines to take their design from concept to final design considerations. As teams, they presented their work to a panel of judges comprised of professionals from the City of Seattle Office of the Waterfront, the Puget Sound Maritime, and UW Capital Projects.

MKA provided mentors for two of the four Seattle teams this year. The Tuesday Team was led by Brad Strandquist and Emily Carlip and included mentors Juliette Peyroux, Audrey Bentz, Andrew Huang, and Justin Grasse. The Thursday team included mentors Zack Stutts, Lindsay Hull, Taylor LaForge, Michael Makris, Kathryn DeBenedetto, and Noa Yates.

MKA is a Platinum sponsor of the Industry Leaders Reception Scholarship Event to be held on June 3rd.

» MKA Mentors ACE Students

05.19.2015 — MKA’s Director of Earthquake Engineering, John Hooper, was in Washington, D.C. on May 19 to testify in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. The hearing focused on the impacts of a major earthquake anticipated in the Pacific Northwest and how the region is preparing for those impacts. 

“We are continually improving the knowledge and the design of how we deal with earthquakes and other natural hazards, the key thing is to implement that correctly”, John said. In addition, John spoke about the how buildings codes (many of which he has helped to develop) address the region’s seismic activity. John is currently the Chair of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s ASEC 7 Seismic Subcommittee.

The hearing can be streamed here.   And read John’s written testimony here

» John Hooper Testimony in Washington D.C.

05.14.2015 — At any given time on a city’s skyline you can look across and see a collection of construction cranes. Right now in Miami there are 11 tower cranes working together to create just ONE project — the new Brickell City Centre.

This extensive project includes 5.4 million square feet of office, residential, hotel, retail and entertainment space, all on a tight downtown 9.1 acre site.  The tower cranes are positioned for simultaneous lifting, as well as being suitable to meet hurricane wind-load ratings for safety. Read more about the cranes and their intricate lifting configurations at the ForConstructionPros.com website here.

And learn more about this MKA project on our website here.

» 11 Tower Cranes Work Simultaneously at Brickell

05.04.2015 — MKA would like to announce the following 2015 promotions. Chosen individually for their unique abilities, the group shares common traits of skill, specialization, and leadership. Collectively, they represent the future of MKA.


David Fields, PE, SE, LEED AP


Matt Jones, PE, LEED AP BD+C
Tom Meyer, SE




Brett C. Gourley, PE, SE, LEED AP
Patrick A. Hansen-Lund, PE
Wyatt R. Henderson, PE, SE
L. Leif Johnson, PE, SE, LEED AP
Russell A. Larsen, PE, SE
Brian G. Morgen, PhD, PE, SE, LEED AP
Michael A. Rehder, PE, SE


Sean P. Clifton, PE, LEED AP
Daniel R. Currit, PE, SE
Amy D. Haaland, PE, SE
Joshua L. Powers, PE
R. Tyler Ranf, Ph.D., PE, SE
Kevin M. Solberg, PE
Matthew W. Streid, SE
David A. Tayabji, PE, SE
Michael D. Weinert, PE, SE

» 2015 Promotions

04.01.2015 — Jon Magnusson has been named the Inaugural Recipient of Engineering News Record Northwest’s new Legacy Award, which recognizes “enduring contributions of industry professionals to their profession, their community and the built environment.”

Jon has had a hand in virtually every significant public building constructed in Seattle over the past two decades, including the Seattle Federal Courthouse; Safeco Field, home to Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners; and CenturyLink Field, home to the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks.  He also founded the ACE Mentor Program of Washington, which pairs high school students with mentors in architecture, construction, and engineering. Read more here.

» Jon Magnusson receives ENR Northwest’s inaugural Legacy Award

03.25.2015 — MKA had quite a presence at the American Institute of Steel Construction’s 2015 NASCC Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.  Dave Eckmann, Senior Principal, moderated two sessions at the conference, entitled “Casting Your Future” (providing updates on the use of steel castings) and “Common Business Development Challenges” (exploring what it takes to produce revenue results).  Tom Meyer, Principal, moderated a session on “BRBF Procedures for Multi-Tier Braced Frames” (educating engineers about a new preliminary procedure for member design, and how to use it in future projects).  

Matt Streid, Associate, participated in a panel discussion on “Lessons I Wish I Had Known Starting Out.”  The session featured top young designers sharing lessons they learned the hard way.  Streid is active in the Young Professionals Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.  John Hooper, Director of Earthquake Engineering, also attended the conference.

» MKA active at AISC’s 2015 NASCC Conference

03.13.2015 — The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently announced new estimates for the probability of a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake hitting California in the next 30 years, with an increase from 4.7% to 7.0%.  The key change is increased recognition of “fault jumping,” which occurs when a rupture on a fault triggers a simultaneous rupture on a nearby fault, resulting in a “combined” event and a potential substantial increase in magnitude. According to John Hooper, MKA’s Director of Earthquake Engineering, this research result is also being recognized in the development of USGS seismic design maps that will be used in the forthcoming seismic provisions of ASCE 7-16, “Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures.”  The resulting seismic design values in portions of Southern California will increase by 10-20%. You may be wondering if the same is true for earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, a similarly active seismic region.  John says that “fault jumping” does not apply to the Pacific Northwest, as the faults in the region are not as likely to “jump.” Seismic design values for the Pacific Northwest will change in the new maps, but the changes are the result of refinements in the estimated size and location of potential earthquakes and the resulting estimation of ground shaking, rather than “fault jumping” considerations.

For more information on MKA’s Seismic Engineering Services, click here.

Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

» “Fault Jumping” Increases Earthquake Probability in Select Regions

03.11.2015 — The Chicago Architecture Foundation maintains a very elaborate (and famous) model of Chicago buildings, a permanent exhibit that is updated annually and grows along with the city!  A team constantly watches the Loop for new construction, then each year adds new projects and takes out demolished buildings.  Once a project begins, the team contacts the architecture firm for an exterior file of the building that can be used as a guide to 3D print the building’s model. This year, 4 of the 16 new buildings were MKA designs:  151 North Franklin Street, 200 North Michigan, 150 North Riverside, and River Point at 444 West Lake Street (MKA also did a peer review of OneEleven at 111 West Wacker).  With a Chicago office and over 50 projects in the area, MKA has made quite an impression on the city’s skyline. Check out the link to read more and see pictures of the impressive model. Can you spy any MKA projects?


Photo Credit: Kate Gardiner

» MKA Projects added to Chicago City Model

03.10.2015 — Don Davies, Senior Principal, presented “Life Cycle Analysis:  Opportunities for Structural Leadership" at the 4th Annual Vertical Cities Conference in Singapore.   Life cycle analysis is a way to capture the overall carbon footprint of a building, from material choices and origins to construction to demolition.  Don leads MKA’s Sustainability Specialist Group, and is a Lifetime Member of the Cascadia Region Green Building Council.

» Don Davies presents at Vertical Cities Conference

03.03.2015 — Ron Klemencic was recognized as the 2015 Professional Engineer of the Year by the Puget Sound Engineering Council (PSEC) at their annual awards banquet. He was selected “for his outstanding service to the engineering profession and his lifetime of achievement in excellence and innovation,” including the “advancement of performance-based seismic design methodologies.” He has led the design of 36 PBSD buildings—more than any other engineer in the country. Ron is the sixth MKA leader to receive this honor, which is given to a professional engineer who has made significant contributions to the engineering profession and to their community.

» Ron Klemencic wins 2015 PSEC Professional Engineer of the Year

02.09.2015 — The 20th Annual ASCE Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition was held on February 7th at the Museum of Flight in Seattle in conjunction with the Puget Sound Engineering Council’s Engineering Fair. MKA was a sponsor of the event, in addition to providing volunteers for students to try out their seismic engineering skills on MKA’s "Shake Table".

For the first time, MKA submitted an entry in the Corporate Division of the Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition. Competitors must design and build using only Popsicle sticks and white glue. The bridges are judged for aesthetics and efficiency (the ratio of load capacity to bridge weight), and then are subjected to the pressures of a hydraulic press until they snap! The MKA team created their design with a competition "first" by creating the bridge deck purely out of dry glue. This innovative design led to a drastic weight reduction from a typical wood deck.

See a summary of the event and results at the ASCE website here.

» 20th Annual ASCE Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition

02.05.2015 — One of the Elliott Bay Seawall project’s defining features will be its emphasis on habitat restoration.  This includes a Seawall Promenade with a light-penetrating sidewalk (LPS), which will provide required natural light to the salmon migration corridor beneath.  Dozens of layouts were tested to determine which offered the optimal amount of light.  Other habitat restoration measures include textured seawall panels, which encourage the attachment of sea life, and a new habitat beach.  The project will replace 1,128 linear meters (3,700 linear feet) of deteriorating seawall dating back to 1916, along with an abutting city street, utilities, and public spaces.  Pedestrians will enjoy the restoration of the historic Washington Street Boat Landing pergola.  Read more about the Elliott Bay Seawall project here.

» Elliott Bay Seawall from a Salmon’s Perspective

01.26.2015 — Brian McIntyre was announced as “2015 Engineer of the Year” by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Washington at their annual awards banquet held Friday, January 23.  The award is bestowed annually to an engineer who “embodies the highest level of service and integrity to the engineering profession.”  Jon Magnusson, a former recipient of the award, nominated Brian and introduced him as this year’s winner during the ceremony. 

» Brian McIntyre Named "Engineer of the Year"

01.26.2015 — MKA was honored with an ACEC Washington Platinum Award for its role in the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry (SYLPOE) Modernization. SYLPOE, located just south of San Diego, is the busiest land border crossing in the world. Working alongside The Miller Hull Partnership, MKA’s civil and structural teams carefully orchestrated the modernization, setting new standards for efficiency, security, aesthetics, and sustainability – all while the port continued to function on a 24/7 basis. MKA’s entry will now move on to the ACEC National Competition held in April in Washington, D.C. Read more about our project and other ACEC winners in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce special section.

» SYLPOE Wins Platinum Award

01.06.2015 — Our community service project for 2014 was really "Team Building" at its best!

MKA staff planned, designed, and in one epic day of construction, built a portable Farmer’s Market Stand and a Mushroom Shack for Lettuce Link at Marra Farm.

Seattle Works, who assisted in the logistics of the project, recently named it the "Best Build of 2014".

The project was chronicled in a fantastic video produced by students from the Art Institute of Seattle. Check out the full video here!

» MKA Community Service Video

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