2003 Alfred E. Alquist Medal Winner:
Daniel Shapiro

Daniel Shapiro has been a structural engineer in California for more than fifty years.  His outstanding career includes work on power plants, bridges, high-rise apartment buildings, laboratories, schools, churches, libraries, and various military and government buildings.  He is most well known for his specialized work on the seismic rehabilitation of buildings and bridges. 

After graduating from the Department of Civil Engineering at University of California , Berkeley in 1949, Dan worked with several engineering and construction companies before joining-John Sardis and Associates, Architects and Engineers where he was Vice President and Project Manager. In 1965 he founded the structural engineering company now known as SOHA Engineers, a broad based structural engineering firm. Through his work as a structural engineer and his extensive volunteer services, Dan has contributed significantly to the seismic safety of California and its citizens.

Under Mr. Shapiro’s leadership, SOHA Engineers gained a national and international reputation for expertise in seismic resistant design of buildings and bridges, and for the design of deep excavation shoring and underpinning systems. In addition to its structural designs for new buildings the firm has designed many seismic rehabilitation projects including essential, monumental, and historic buildings and bridges, using advanced rehabilitation techniques, including seismic isolation and energy dissipation.

Throughout his career, Mr. Shapiro has given generously of his time to professional, technical, and public service organizations. He served as president of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California in 1969 and he has chaired the Building Codes, Program, and Legislative Committees. He was designated an Honorary member of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California and elected to the College of Fellows of the Structural Engineers Association of California in 1994. He served on the Board of Directors of the Applied Technology Council from 1977 to 1981 and as President in 1980. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a long-standing member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Over the years, he has given scores of technical presentations at seminars, conferences and universities around the world.

For most of the last decade, Mr. Shapiro has acted as project director for a federally sponsored program to develop nationally applicable Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings, and has been active in follow-up programs which are still ongoing connected to the Guidelines. This document, known to the profession as FEMA 273, was a massive undertaking. The process involved input and debate by hundreds of engineers and academicians, and will serve as the basis for seismic rehabilitation codes for years to come.

Beyond this national effort, Mr. Shapiro has given his time to Californians as well. He has chaired San Francisco ’s Seismic Investigation and Hazard Survey Advisory Committee, served as a member of the Task Force for UMB Hazard Abatement in the City of San Francisco , and served as Chair of the California Seismic Safety Commission. He currently Chairs the Project Advisory Committee for the San Francisco Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety, and continues to serve as a Commissioner on the California Seismic Safety Commission (since 1996). He is also active with organizations and earthquake loss reduction policy.

Through his personal integrity and professional skills he has served to bridge the gap between professional assessments of seismic safety and public programs. As a result of his leadership in California and at the national level, Daniel Shapiro has helped to create a better understanding of earthquake impacts, and the steps that can be taken to enhance life safety. In awarding Mr. Shapiro the California Earthquake Safety Foundations’ Alquist Medal, we join others in recognizing Mr. Shapiro’s outstanding contributions to the field of structural engineering, to the State of   California , and to the earthquake-prone areas of the world.