My Daughter, the Engineer

Once upon a time, there was an iconic clock tower that guarded the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge. It was erected in 1940 and designed by Louis P. Hobart, who also designed Grace Cathedral, the California Academy of Sciences, and Macy’s on Union Square, as well as many other structures. This structure initially displayed the Union 76 logo, and later the Bank of America logo. The logo tower was demolished in 2005 to make way for the two One Rincon structures.

Back in 2006-2007, when the LISA Movement was just an idea, key inspiration for LISA sprang from a meeting with the head of San Francisco’s Lendlease office. Lendlease was the general contractor that built the first of the two condo towers at 425 First Street known as One Rincon. The first (south) tower was completed in 2008; the second (north) tower was not completed until 2014. 

The south tower was intriguing, not only because it was/is the tallest residential building in the city (641 feet/60 stories), but also because of a 50,000-gallon water tank that sits atop the building to counter “motion sickness” that might result from the building swaying due to gusty winds or an earthquake. If you have never experienced swaying in a high-rise, rest assured you don’t want to! My experience was at the former Gulf + Western building at 15 Columbus Circle in NYC. According to Wikipedia, “the building would sway slightly during strong winds.” Based on my personal experience, forget the word slightly!

Technically speaking, the tank is called a tuned liquid damper and it was designed by Magnuson Klemencic Associates (MKA) of Seattle. At the time, it was the first such damper in California,although similar dampers were used in Korea and Hong Kong. Since then, the second (north) tower, was also “fitted” with a damper. 

As a shout-out to MKA, the company pioneered a variety of solutions to “dampen” wind-induced building movement.  In 1986, MKA implemented the first-ever use of multi-layer visco-elastic dampers for Seattle’s 76-story Columbia Center, which at the time was the tallest structure in the western U.S.

Suggestion: send your daughter to engineering school so you can bore your friends with her accomplishments as you take them past your child’s building(s), leaving out, of course, that construction is a team effort.

Companies interested in a customized LISA game for 2021 should contact The game can be customized for any building, in any metro, in any language. It is about problem-solving, decision-making, learning, and having fun. It takes limited time, and no construction knowledge is needed. See a brief overview here.

2020-11-23T19:57:18+00:00 Happenings|