Career Began
Ed Diekmann
Edward Diekman
Contributions to Structural Engineering History in Northern California

Ed Diekman earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Iowa and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He served with the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War before joining Gilbert Forsberg Diekmann and Schmidt [GFDS] as a founding partner. The firm incorporated as GFDS Engineers in 1968. Ed Diekmann was promoted to s Vice-President of the San Francisco-based firm in 1976.

Early in his career he developed a strong interest in timber design and cherished a close collaboration with The Forest Products Laboratory at UC Berkeley. In the 1980’s Ed studied the structural behavior of horizontal plywood diaphragms subject to wind and seismic loading action. At a nationally attended workshop in 1986, he presented a paper outlining a method of diaphragm analysis that is often referred to as “The Diekmann Method”. The APA-published Research Report 138, Plywood Diaphragms , 6 Appendix E, “Analysis of Chord Forces and Shears for Diaphragm 4″, 2000, which addressed diaphragms with openings. The method of transferring the forces at the corners of the opening into the main body of the diaphragm was developed by Edward F. Diekmann, P.E.

Ed’s most prominent characteristic as a structural engineer in private practice was his passion for expanding his knowledge of the field of structural engineering and passing the information he learned on to his co-workers and the profession at large. He was a great mentor and educator to all who would listen. Foor many years, he taught Structural Engineering at the UC Berkeley Extension campus in San Francisco. His engineering research and development interests led him to active participation in ASCE and ASTM committees and attendance at technical events around the country.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake provided convincing evidence that the seismic resistance of light-frame wood construction needs to be improved. Of the 25 fatalities associated with building damage, 24 occurred in wood frame buildings. At least half of the $40 billion in property damage was attributed to wood construction (Kircher 1997, Reitherman 1998). Nearly 50,000 housing units, almost all of them in wood buildings, were rendered uninhabitable by the earthquake.

Following the Northridge earthquake, CURE organized the CUREe-Caltech Wood Frame Project, which was a $6.9 million FEMA-funded effort administered by the California Office of Emergency Services. The goal was to improve the seismic resistance of light-frame wood buildings. Issues addressed in the project include new construction, construction quality control, and retrofit of existing hazardous structural types such as ‘tuck under ”apartment buildings. The project had five (5) elements — 1. Testing and Analysis, 2. Field Investigations, 3. Codes and Standards, 4. Economic Applications, and 5. Education and Outreach

The project Element 3, Codes and Standards Committee membership included three Element 3 managers and Edward Diekmann, Consulting Structural Engineer; Professor J. Daniel Dolan, Virginia Tech; Seb Ficcadenti, Ficcadenti and Waggoner Consulting Structural Engineers; and Dennis Richardson, Building Official from Sacramento. Ed Diekman was one of the nationally recognized experts on seismic engineering, analysis, and design of timber structures.

Given his desire to “get to the heart of the matter”, it is no surprise that, during his later years, Ed focused his efforts on forensic engineering. He was diligent in not only determining the cause of the issue in question, but also devising the most effective remedy. After retirement from GFDS, Ed was a consultant and expert for attorneys involved in construction litigation cases.

Awards & Accomplishments
  • SEAONC President (1991)
  • SEAONC Fellow
  • SEAOC Fellow
  • Chair Wood Standards Committee, American Society of Testing and Materials ASTM
  • Court Appointed Master, State of California
  • Engineering Instructor, UC Berkeley Extension
  • Diaphragms and Shearwalls, Wood Engineering and Construction Handbook, 3rd Edition, K.F. Faharty and T. G. Williamson pp. 8.47 – 8.79
  • Discussion and Closure of Design of Wood Structural Panels Shear Walls with Openings, A Comparison of Methods – Wood Design Focus 2005 2.14 – 2.15
  • "Recent Work of William Wilson Wurster", Architectural Record, 133: 1, 107-111, 01/1963.
  • "A Lot of Living Space on a Precipitous Site", Architectural Record, 133: 4, 177-180, 04/1963.
  • "Awards of Merit Ghirardelli Square", Architectural Record, 140: 1, 43, 1966-07.
  • "Four Public Libraries", Architectural Record, 180-181, 09/1967.
  • "Awards of Merit Ghirardelli Square", Architectural Record, 140: 1, 43, 1966-07.
  • "Shear Capacity of Metal Roofing", Civil Engineering, 46: 8, 26, 28, 08/1976.
  • Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, "Freeway Park", Guide to Architecture in Washington State, 128, 1980.
  • "Award of Merit Wurster Bernardi & Emmons", Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 46: 1, 46-47, 07/1966.
  • ATC – 7 Guidelines for the Design of Horizontal Wood Diaphragms 1981
  • ATC - 20-1 Field Manual: Post Earthquake Safety Evaluation of Buildings Basic Procedures Manual 1989
  • FEMA 306, FEMA 308 ATC-43 Evaluation of Earthquake Damaged Concrete and Masonry Wall Buildings – Basic Procedures Manual 1998
  • ATC – 57 Improving Seismic Design and Construction Practice 2003
  • ATC – 58-2 Preliminay Evaluation Methods for Defining Performance 2003
Related Structure(s)
  • • Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, San Francisco 1896 – 1898
  • • 1st Unitarian Church #2, Berkeley, California 1962
  • • Main Library, City of Mill Valley 1964
  • • Freeway Park, Seattle, Washington 1971 – 1976