Skip to content Skip to navigation

New Architecture Defined by Structure

CEE 298 Winter Seminar Series
Mark Sarkasian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP - San Francisco
Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - 4:15 pm
Shriram 104

Site conditions, the environment, and performance all drive the need for inventive structures, structures that can inform new architecture. A reduction in the use of raw materials is only the start to solutions that require high performance.  Structures must be considered over their life-cycle and decisions that we make today are crucial for the future of our cities.

New engineering ideas are being developed using material optimization principles, strategically combining / mixing traditional building materials like concrete and steel, and perhaps most importantly introducing building components that provide a natural response to imposed loading demands.  Ultimately, structures must be safe but need to also carefully consider environmental impacts at the time of construction and over its life.  Building codes perhaps need to evolve from just addressing safety and focus on performance and environmental impacts.

This presentation will highlight current work that supports these principles.  Some work is built and others under development.  Both theory and practical applications will be discussed.  Projects include the 30-story 350 Mission Tower in San Francisco focusing on optimized, long-span concrete flat plate construction, the 240 ft-tall “elevated cube” used for the Los Angeles Federal Courthouse Building, the 1000 ft-tall Citic Financial Tower, Shenzhen, using the world’s first optimized frame, the 25-story tall 111 South Main Tower, Salt Lake City, with no perimeter columns at its base, and the LAX pedestrian bridge prototypes that perhaps will define bridges of the future.


Mark P. Sarkisian, PE, SE, LEED, Partner of Seismic and Structural Engineering in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, has developed innovative engineering solutions for over 100 major building projects around the world including some of the tallest and most complex.  Mark holds nine U.S. Patents and five International Patents for high-performance seismic structural mechanisms designed to protect buildings in areas of high seismicity and for seismic and environmentally responsible structural systems.  He is the author of “Designing Tall Buildings – Structure as Architecture,” and teaches at UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Stanford University, Cal Poly and Northeastern University.  He has a BS-CE Degree from the University of Connecticut and is a Fellow of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers, and an MS-SE Degree from Lehigh University.  He has also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Clarkson University.