ASCE SEI announces research grant to develop, write, and publish procedural guidance.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) and the Charles Pankow Foundation signed an agreement for a $230,000 research grant to develop, write, and publish the state-of-the-art exemplar procedural guidance to properly execute a performance-based structural fire engineering (SFE) design in accordance with the new ASCE/SEI 7-16 Appendix E industry standard. The project will employ a scientific and engineering approach using the procedures outlined in ASCE/SEI Manual of Practice Structural Fire Engineering (MOP 138) to quantify the fire exposure and structural behavior of existing building designs during fire. Recognized experts in performance-based design will peer review the design brief and final report. The final document will be freely available to the public.

The project team is led by Principal Investigator (PI) Kevin LaMalva, P.E., M.ASCE, senior staff II/Fire Safety with Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc. He helped lead the effort for development of Appendix E and as editor of MOP 138 and is a recognized expert in structural fire protection engineering with a profound understanding of the building code environment for fire safety and the challenges raised by the adoption of SFE in practice. Including the PI, the following collaboration of structural engineering firms and academic advisors create design teams, selected to provide regional representation and will serve as team leads:

  • Najib Abboud, Ph.D., P.E, M.ASCE, senior principal, Thornton Tomasetti, with Thomas Gernay, Aff.M.ASCE, Johns Hopkins University
  • Larry Griffis, P.E., F.SEI, M.ASCE, senior principal, Walter P Moore, with Jose Torero, CPEng, CP, M.ASCE, University of Maryland
  • Ron Klemencic, P.E., S.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE, chairman and CEO, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, with Erica Fischer, P.E., M.ASCE, Oregon State University
  • Kevin LaMalva, P.E. M.ASCE, senior staff II, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, with Negar Elhami-Khorasani, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, University at Buffalo

“We are grateful to the Charles Pankow Foundation for their overall vision and funding of this important project to help advance performance-based design,” said LaMalva. “Our team seeks to demonstrate the benefit of structural engineers serving as integral participants in the field of structural fire protection, which has remained relatively unchanged for a century. Specifically, structural engineers have the ability and tools to deliver more efficient and economical designs while also providing more intrinsically safe structures to fire. ASCE/SEI’s new Standard Appendix and Manual of Practice are key advancements that will guide this effort.”

Work on the project began in September 2018 and is to be completed in October 2019.

Information provided by the American Society of Civil Engineers (