Engineers / Karl V. Steinbrugge
Karl V. Steinbrugge was a structural engineer and Professor of Structural Design in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley (early 1950s – 1978) and a tireless leader in the reduction of earthquake risk, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning with the 1952 Kern County earthquake, he conducted field investigations of damage in earthquakes, compiling over many years 5,800 slides and 10,000 photographs, all exceptionally well documented, which in 1992 he donated to the library of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center (EERC) at UC Berkeley.
In 1968, Karl authored the seminal work Earthquake Hazard in The San Francisco Bay Area: A Continuing Problem in Public Policy which was central to passage of the Alquist-Priolo Geologic Hazards Zones Act of 1972, the Hospital Seismic Safety Act of 1973, the authorization of the California State Capitol Building Restoration, and the Seismic Safety Commission Act of 1974. His 1973 address to the Commonwealth Club of California, “Earthquake Hazard and Public Policy in California,” was the first broadly publicized speech in the United States.on the subject of the earthquake risk. He later helped in the formation and initial appointments of the California Seismic Safety Commission (CSSC). Karl served as CSSC’s first chairman from 1975 to 1977. In 1988 he was the first person, after Senator Alquist in 1987, to be awarded the Alfred E. Alquist Award for Achievement in Earthquake Safety in California.
At the federal level, Steinbrugge was the key engineer involved in several important reports, including being the key author of the 1970 Earthquake Hazard Reduction: Report of the Task Force on Earthquake Hazard Reduction, efforts that eventually resulted in the 1977 National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act (NEHRP). Simultaneously with his appointment at Berkeley he served as head of the Earthquake Department of the Pacific Fire Rating Bureau in San Francisco (now ISO). In 1972 he coauthored the NOAA report, A Study of Earthquake Losses in the San Francisco Bay Area, Data and Analysis and later published the well-known book, Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis: An Anatomy of Hazards.
Karl was a founder and active member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and served as president during 1968-69. In 1994 he was awarded the EERI George W. Housner Medal in recognition of his contributions to professional and public service in seismic safety. Also in 1994, he was honored with the presentation of the SSA Medal by the Seismological Society of America. He was also a member, since July 1947, of the Structural Engineering Association of Northern California (SEAONC).
- EERI President (1968)
- Alfred E. Alquist Award for Achievement in Earthquake Safety in California (1988)
- EERI George W. Housner Medal (1994)
- SSA Medal by the Seismological Society of America (1994)
- Structural Engineers Association of Northern California
- Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
- Seismological Society of America
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- University of California, Berkeley
- California Seismic Safety Commission
- 1952 Kern County Earthquake
- 1964 Alaska Earthquake
- 1971 San Fernando Earthquake