CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE SAFETY FOUNDATION

2006 Alfred E. Alquist Medal Winner:
Chris D. Poland

Mr. Poland, a registered civil and structural engineer, has worked as an advisor on government programs for earthquake hazard mitigation and as an effective leader in related professional activities for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of University of Redlands in mathematics, and has a Master of Science degree in civil (structural) engineering from Stanford University.

Mr. Poland’s career in structural engineering began as a summer intern and has led to his current position as Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Degenkolb Engineers in San Francisco. His professional experience includes projects of all construction types, ranging from new design, seismic retrofit and rehabilitation, to historic preservation.

He has spent countless volunteer hours of service as an advisor on government programs for earthquake hazard mitigation and as an articulate leader of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), where he served both as President and Treasurer.  Mr. Poland’s contributions include  (1) several decades of membership on the Strong Motion Instrumentation Advisory Committee of the California Geological Survey’s Strong Motion Instrumentation Program; (2) years of advocacy for the development and implementation of the Advanced National Seismic System, which is operated by the U. S. Geological Survey; and (3) extended advocacy, as President of EERI, for the significant expansion of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.  Most recently, he served as Chairman of the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference Commemorating the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, which was attended by nearly 4,000 specialists in earthquake hazard mitigation, including researchers and practitioners from around the world.

Mr. Poland has also made substantial contributions in the advancement of structural and earthquake engineering practice.  Perhaps his most important contribution was his service as Principal-in-Charge of the project to develop procedures for detailed seismic evaluation of existing buildings, which his firm prepared for the Applied Technology Council, with funding from the National Science Foundation.  That effort resulted in the publication of the ATC-14 Report, Evaluating the Seismic Resistance of Existing Buildings, which evolved into the FEMA 310 Handbook for the Seismic Evaluation of Existing Buildings—a Prestandard and ultimately into the ASCE 31 Standard, Seismic Evaluation of Existing Buildings.  He also led the development of the FEMA 356 Prestandard and Commentary for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings, which was based on the NEHRP Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings (FEMA 273 Report) developed earlier by the Applied Technology Council for the Building Seismic Safety Council, with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Currently he is chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Standards Committee on Seismic Rehabilitation, which is converting the FEMA 356 Prestandard into an ASCE Standard (ASCE 41).

Through his personal advocacy and leadership skills, Chris Poland has promoted and advanced earthquake hazard reduction in California .  In awarding Mr. Poland the California Earthquake Safety Foundation’s Alquist Medal, the Board of Directors of the California Earthquake Safety Foundation join others in recognizing his significant contributions to earthquake safety in California and in other earthquake-prone areas of the United States.