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Since the Northridge earthquake in 1994, a movement has started in the United States and Canada for seismic upgrade of structures. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has completed many research and development programs in this sector, with the goal of reducing the ever-increasing cost that disasters inflict on our society. This movement has received even more attention in the last decade, with billions of dollars having been invested in this sector thus far.

The Alphatecs' executive team has been at the forefront of this movement since its very early stages, and even before the first standard for seismic retrofit came into existence about two decades ago. Having completed extensive research and joint industry development programs, our team has gained valuable experience and contributed to the knowledge in this area. They have completed many seismic upgrade projects, ranging from high-rises and towers, to dams, tunnels and pipelines.

Image by David Martin


Image by All Bong

To keep the balance between the architecture, engineering and construction, we believe seismic upgrade of buildings is an art that calls for innovative and critical thinking. It is not only an engineering exercise, but also a link to bridge the gap between all stakeholders to help mature various ideas and keep the project on schedule and below the budget.


Our team has a distinct skillset and technical know-how to support our clients starting from initial seismic studies and preliminary concept all the way to the detailed design and construction support. With extensive experience in seismic upgrade of many structures in the United States and Canada, our clients are rest assured that we only design what needs to be done to keep the construction cost to a reasonable level.

Our experience is very diverse, and includes a wide range of structural systems such as non-ductile concrete, old steel structures, unreinforced masonry, soft story building and concrete tilt ups.


The seismic upgrade and earthquake engineering services we provide includes, but is not limited to:

  • Development of design philosophy and seismic performance (and their criteria)

  • Seismic upgrade and fit-for-purpose retrofit

  • Performance-Based Seismic Design (PBSD) of structures (new and retrofit)

  • Seismic (base) isolation, damping, fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) and other protective technologies

  • Seismic hazard, risk assessment and evaluation of probable loss scenario

  • Structural evaluation and rehabilitation

  • Liquefaction and soil-structure interaction analysis

  • Code compliance and peer review

  • Realistic 3D computer simulation

  • Coupled nonlinear analysis and design

  • Application of FEMA design guidelines

  • Earthquake damage assessments and repairs

Architect on Building Site


Image by Ricardo Gomez Angel

With proven track record in seismic upgrade and earthquake engineering along the west coast, we strive to be at the forefront of seismic education and technology. Our team's experience in seismic retrofit and earthquake engineering spans a wide range, including:


  • Buildings, high-rises and towers

  • Bridges

  • Dams, spillways and powerhouses

  • Tunnels and underground structures

  • Deep shafts and foundations

  • Pipes and pipelines

  • Marine and offshore structures

Stationary photo

We do the hard work for you to have a practical and cost-effective solution

Image by Scott Graham


Whether an old masonry heritage building or a non-ductile steel bridge, we have the experience and expertise in various materials and structural systems to support you in your projects. 


When designed based on older codes, concrete structures lack the ductility requirements to dissipate the energy induced by earthquake. Fortunately, these buildings can be seismically upgraded using various innovative techniques such as FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastics), steel bracing, or even shotcrete depending on architectural application and construction requirements.

Our subject matter experts utilize advanced techniques such as nonlinear analysis and fracture mechanics, which removes the conservatism built into the design codes and standards, and provides an economical and cost-effective solution for seismic upgrade of these structures. Concrete structures offer a long service life and durability, and we help you use its full potential.

Under The Bridge


Although not as ductile as new ones, older steel structures have some reserved capacity that is not captured or accounted for by design codes or traditional engineering approaches.


The recent researches have shed some light on how to evaluate this reserved capacity using higher level analysis and engineering methodologies. Using such approaches, we have helped our clients considerably reduce the cost associated with the seismic upgrade so that they can spend it on other areas of their project. We believe restoring those old style structures can help us keep the character of our towns.


Failure of Unreinforced Masonry (URM) structures has been a main cause of fatality and very costly in many recent earthquakes. However, it would be prohibitive to replace all buildings with earthquake-resistant structures. This has resulted in development of various solutions for seismic upgrade of these structures.

At Alphatecs, we first investigate the building thoroughly to identify the vulnerable areas that call for seismic upgrade. Whether insufficient shear strength or existence of a weak/soft story, we asses the structure to identify where and how to spend the budget for a robust upgrade solution. We enjoy being a part of the team that brings life back to our heritage and iconic buildings in our community.  

Vernacular architecture


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