Career Began
Sigmund Freeman
Source: Gwenyth Searer
1980s Sigmund Freeman, Terrence Paret, and Brian Kehoe at office
Source: Gwenyth Searer
1987 Sigmund Freeman at office barbeque
Source: Gwenyth Searer
1987 Sigmund Freeman and Terrence Paret at office barbeque
Source: Gwenyth Searer
1993 Sigmund Freeman, Terrence Paret, Kent Sasaki, Una Gilmartin, James Mahaney, Fred Willsea, Jane Anderson, Brian Kehoe, CeCe Louie in office photo
Source: Gwenyth Searer
1993 Sigmund Freeman, Brian Kehoe, and Paul Cox at office
Source: Gwenyth Searer
1995 Sigmund Freeman and Una Gilmartin in Sig's office
Source: Gwenyth Searer
1998 Sigmund Freeman at the Pacific Bell Annex Building in Oakland
Source: Gwenyth Searer
2003 Sig Freeman in his office with his Barcalounger Chair
Source: Gwenyth Searer
2005 Sigmund Freeman, Terrence Paret, and Una Gilmartin in office, looking at Sherith Israel photos
Source: Gwenyth Searer
2018 SEAONC Awards, Sigmund Freeman, Terrence Paret, Jeff Rautenberg, Gwenyth Searer, and Kari Klaboe
Source: Gwenyth Searer
Contributions to Structural Engineering History in Northern California

Sigmund Freeman (Sig) earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and first worked for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and then for John A. Blume and Associates, where he developed criteria and a methodology for predicting damage to buildings due to ground motions caused by both underground nuclear explosions and earthquakes. He conducted investigations on existing buildings, full-scale model structures in the field, and building components in the laboratory. He performed earthquake damage assessment investigations to buildings following the Alaska (1964), San Fernando (1971), Loma Prieta (1989), and Northridge (1994) earthquakes.

Sig joined Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) in 1981 and served as the San Francisco branch manager from 1983 to 1993, becoming a Principal of the firm in 1993. At WJE, he worked on a variety of seismic design projects, including high- and low-rise structures and structural systems of steel, reinforced concrete, and reinforced masonry.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he was responsible for revising and updating the Department of the Army, Navy, and Air Force manuals on Seismic Design for Buildings, Seismic Design Guidelines for Essential Buildings, and Seismic Design Guidelines for Upgrading Existing Buildings. He also taught courses for the Army Corps of Engineers on seismic design using these manuals.

Sig was responsible for the development of the Capacity Spectrum Method as an analytical tool for approximating the inelastic behavior of structures subjected to strong motion earthquakes, a technique which he initially developed for the U.S. Naval Facilities Command. He introduced the Acceleration Displacement Response Spectrum (ADRS) format of plotting response spectra. The Capacity Spectrum Method and the ADRS format remain in widespread use several decades after he introduced them. Throughout his distinguished career, he participated in the development of earthquake design provisions for building codes through active participation in Applied Technology Council (ATC), Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC), Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). He was an ACI Fellow, a Life Member of ASCE, and was appointed as a commissioner to the City of San Francisco Building Inspection Commission. He also helped develop the City of Oakland’s earthquake damage repair ordinance after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Sig was a brilliant structural engineer who was firmly grounded in the fundamentals of seismic behavior, seismology, and seismic risk. He had an unparalleled ability to explain complex ideas to clients and colleagues alike, and he was a generous mentor. Despite his superior knowledge, Sig was always one to seek out the opinions of others and loved to explore new ideas with his fellow associates, collaborating on many technical papers. Sig had an insatiable curiosity and delighted in clever solutions.

Outspoken when necessary, he held himself (and others) to high technical standards and was incredibly dedicated to improving the profession. His office door was always open for engineers, young and old, to discuss engineering problems as well as life in general.

Awards & Accomplishments
  • National Council of Structural Engineers Associations Excellence in Structural Engineering Award for the seismic strengthening of Temple Sherith Israel (2018)
  • Structural Engineers Association of Northern California Historic Preservation Award of Excellence for the seismic strengthening of Temple Sherith Israel (2018)
  • California Preservation Foundation Preservation Design Award for the seismic strengthening of Temple Sherith Israel (2011)
  • California Preservation Foundation Craftsmanship Design Award for the structural stabilization and seismic strengthening of Alcatraz Cellhouse (2005)
  • International Concrete Repair Institute Award of Excellence for the structural stabilization and seismic strengthening of Alcatraz Cellhouse (2005)
  • American Concrete Institute Fellow (2001)
  • California Structural Engineer No. 1256 (Issued December 23, 1963)
  • California Civil Engineer No. 12130 (Issued November 20, 1959)
Related Engineer(s)
  • John A. Blume
  • Eric Elsesser
  • Frank McClure
  • Vitelmo Bertero
  • Joseph Nicoletti
  • William Holmes
  • Fred Willsea
  • Boris Bresler
  • Craig Comartin
  • Sven Thomasen
  • Peter Fajfar
  • Peter Gergely
  • James Mahaney
  • Terrence Paret
  • Gwenyth Searer
  • Una Gilmartin
  • Brian Kehoe
  • Kent Sasaki
Related Structure(s)
External Links