Structural Engineers Association of New York


Find session Abstracts, Speaker Bios and presentations below.
Some presentations will be available after the event, some may not be available for share.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Session 1: Designing for Urban Coastal Resiliency - Maggie Hopkins, PE (AKRF)

Session 2: La Guardia Terminal C - Nanci Buscemi, PE (Burns McDonnell)

Session 3: Triangle Stack - Virginie Stolz (LOT-EK), Hermona Tamrat, PE (Silman)

Session 4: Wind Impacts on Structures - Understanding Risk and Ensuring Resiliency - Jon Galsworthy, PhD, PE (CPP)

Session 5: Design and Performance of Tall Buildings for Wind - Preetam Biswas, PE, LEED (SOM), Sami Matar, PE (LERA), Alexander Jordan, PE, AIA (SOM)

Designing for Urban Coastal Resiliency - Maggie Hopkins, PE (AKRF)

Abstract: New York City’s East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project serves as a groundbreaking example of how urban areas in the United States can adapt to the realities of climate change and sea level rise. Born out of the winning “BIG U” concept from the 2014 Rebuild By Design competition, ESCR is the largest coastal resiliency project ever undertaken in New York City. The project, which is currently in construction, will deliver a 2.4-mile long coastal flood protection system interwoven with parks and cityscapes in Manhattan’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.

The technical challenges of designing such a system in an urban environment are myriad, including designing flood protection infrastructure that not only occupies but improves the limited waterfront open space in a highly-developed area, crossing century-old infrastructure and multiple jurisdictional boundaries, and threading the alignment alongside and across one of the most heavily-trafficked roadways in America’s largest city. Further compounding these complexities are the many logistical considerations associated with being at the vanguard of coastal protection in New York City, including balancing the needs and objectives of public and private stakeholders, developing effective protocols and precedent-setting practices, and educating both community stakeholders and project partners about the critical elements of flood protection design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

To address these challenges and help similar cities move toward a climate-intelligent future, the ESCR

team has developed best practices and learned valuable lessons that can apply to all urban resiliency challenges. This presentation will focus on three key takeaways from the project’s development: a highly collaborative approach to integrated urban design and community engagement, coalition building across City, State, and private utility project partners beginning at an early stage of the project cycle, and designing a system that is resilient, maintainable, and adaptable in the face of future climate uncertainties while enhancing the urban fabric 365 days per year.

Speaker:   Maggie Hopkins, PE , Vice President for Civil Engineering and Environmental Planning, AKRF

Ms. Hopkins is a vice president for civil engineering and environmental planning at AKRF. She combines engineering and planning  expertise for climate resiliency and disaster recovery work, which encompasses flood resiliency project design, community asset inventories, risk assessment, and environmental review of resiliency projects pursuant to local, state, and federal requirements. She is currently the project manager for the design of East Side Coastal Resiliency and managing the environmental review of the North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project, and has led environmental studies for multiple Superstorm Sandy recovery projects. Ms. Hopkins earned degrees in Environmental & Water Resources Engineering from Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

 La Guardia Terminal C - Nanci Buscemi, PE

Abstract: Structural design of Delta’s new Terminal C complex at LaGuardia Airport addresses gravity loads for extensive mep,  baggage handling and other systems, wind and seismic loads, which are formidable, and significant flood loads and  explosive weapons threats. Engineers will need to address these, and possibly more extensive threats in the future.  

The LaGuardia landfill site posed significant challenges in soil conditions replete with underground  obstructions. Limited space required tight fit of foundations amid underground utilities and between roadways. The  project was phased to accommodate continuous operations during construction, including several temporary bridges.  Phasing changes required redesign.  

The Headhouse and Concourse E are designed to remain dry during the design flood, while Concourse G operations are  raised above the design flood elevation.  

Nanci will discuss benefits and challenges of several types of flood resistant structures used and approaches to blast resistant design.  

Speaker: Nanci Buscemi, PEStructural Department Manager NY-NJ \Aviation & Federal 

Nanci Buscemi, PE is a Structural Department Manager for the New York and New Jersey offices of Burns & McDonnell. Nanci has over 34 years of structural design, analysis, and management experience. Projects she’s worked on include airline terminals, U.S. Embassy buildings, and courthouses. In addition, she has experience with infrastructure, commercial and residential buildings, and retrofit of existing structures. Nanci has designed steel and concrete superstructure, foundations, curtain wall support, hurricane and blast-resistant structures and vulnerability assessments. Throughout her career Nanci has provided structural services to architects, owners, developers, contractors, and fabricators and has supervised engineers and drafters.


Triangle Stack - Virginie Stolz (LOT-EK) & Hermona Tamrat, PE (Silman)

Abstract: TRIANGLE STACK #2 is a site activator. Designed for the Brooklyn Museum as a collaboration with artist JR, it creates an instant public space, a 60-foot tall triangular courtyard open to the city and the sky. The installation, at Domino Park throughout 2020 and during the COVID pandemic, offered an outdoor respite and a background for the BLM protests.

STACKS are temporary large-scale installations that aim at creating sudden and powerful experience in public space. Taking advantage of the systems and technologies for movement and storage of shipping containers, STACKS propose ‘dry’ assemblies, in which containers are selected and simply piled up to form different configurations—generating a variety of volumes and of interior spaces. Strategies of repetition and variation both channel and challenge the shipping container’s structural logic: twisting the conventional container masses with attention to space, and to a direct one-to-one experience as the stack space is visited, crossed and traversed freely.  

The installation at Domino Park was a temporary triangular courtyard constructed with 18 used shipping containers. Standard container connectors, or container fittings, are all conceived for simple 90-degree assemblies. In TRIANGLE STACK#2, containers were not orthogonal. The temporary nature (and budget) of the installation did not permit site welding, hence the challenge to adapt existing fittings to stack and connect the units at 55-degree and 70-degree angles. Close coordination between manufacturer, architect, and engineer resulted in custom modifications to off-the-shelf fittings through the introduction of a third piece that permitted the non-orthogonal connection. The 4-part fittings arrived from Peck & Hale, a manufacturer of cargo securing products conveniently located in Long Island, NY, and were welded on a bias at Maspeth Welding following Silman’ specifications. No alterations to the containers were made, allowing for their continued reuse, and maximizing the sustainability of this temporary installation. 

The structure supported a large-scale mural, The Chronicles of New York City, by artist JR as part of the Brooklyn Museum exhibit JR: Chronicles, through a full-size wood stud and plywood backing attached to the containers. The significant wind load, due to the height and riverside proximity of the installation, on the full-size mural was resisted without the use of any struts or tie downs. Counterweights were instead applied to the two lower levels of containers, inserting 88 tanks, 250-gallons each, within those levels, and then filling them with 22,000 gallons of generic city water.   

The precise misuse of the orthogonal default of a pre-engineered, pre-tested component, the fitting, and the water weight resisting the 20 pound-per-square-foot code requirement for hurricane-grade uplift wind loads bypassing a conventional concrete foundation shift toward an ephemeral installation yielding a 2,800 square-foot, 6-story public space, and anchoring and lifting its generic unit, the box.  

Speakers:  Virginie Stolz (LOT-EK) & Hermona Tamrat, PE (Silman)


Virginie Stolz, partner at LOT-EK is a Senior Designer in the studio since 2008. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Architecture School of Paris-La-Villette, and is licensed in France. In her 18 years of practice and her 14 years at LOT-EK, Virginie has been actively involved in architectural projects both locally and internationally, developing a wide expertise on different phases and aspects of the design process, from concept to development, to detailing, to construction administration and management. Her experience ranges from large public projects, to interior renovations, to public art installations. 

Virginie is also the co-founder of c-Home USA, a company that provides and installs sustainable prefab container homes, designed by LOT-EK and made of upcycled shipping containers.


Hermona Tamrat is a Senior Engineer at Silman’s New York office. In her 7 years with the firm, she has worked on a wide range of project and construction but has particular interest in designing spaces that serve the public and bring excellent design to all. Some of her projects include the renovation of the Central King Building at NJIT, the affordable housing + homeless shelter complex at 233 Landing Road, the gut-renovation and fa├žade preservation at Friends Seminary School, and the restoration and transformation of the abandoned structure of the former Brooklyn power station into the Powerhouse Workshop to house the art non-profit in Gowanus. She launched Silman’s Building Equity Initiative with colleague Maya Stuhlbarg, expanding the firm’s pro bono work focused on creating spaces that strengthen communities and contribute to societal equity, and co-founded Silman’s Coalition for Justice in Design, advocating to center social justice as a guiding principle in the firm’s work.

Wind Impacts on Structures - Understanding Risk and Ensuring Resiliency - Jon Galsworthy, PhD, PE (CPP)

Abstract: Designing structures in a changing climate to resist the impacts of wind raises a number of questions. What hazard or wind speed should be considered in the design? Does the type of windstorm change the design? How does one understand uncertainty and risk beyond the building code? How should design adapt to achieve performance goals including cost effectiveness and resiliency?

The field of wind engineers has developed to look at these questions and more in a detailed framework to assess uncertainty and risk. Understanding wind impact begins with assessing the hazard by storm type from hurricanes to small-scale and intense thunderstorms to large-scale synoptic systems (e.g. Nor’Easters). Among the largest sources of uncertainty is the wind loading coefficients for a particular structure when compared to data available in model codes such as ASCE 7. Project-specific data derived from site-specific data and wind tunnel modeling improves reliability. A detailed study of performance objectives may also point to various options of mitigation for wind-induced motion and deflection in buildings and structures. Mitigation of motion through supplemental damping to ensure occupant comfort, to understanding wind-induced vibrations and their effects of all building systems are part of a full assessment of risk and resiliency.

The presentation will go into some detail on each of these points including select case studies in New York and Florida to demonstrate a arrange of design scenarios.

Speaker:  Jon Galsworthy, PhD, PE (CPP)


 Dr. Jon Galsworthy is a world-leading wind engineer and recognized expert for wind effects on tall buildings. With more than 25 years of experience in all technical aspects of wind tunnel modelling studies, Jon leads highly technical teams toward client-centered goals and objectives. He has directed the wind engineering studies of several of the most complex and ambitious designs over the last 10 years. Internationally these include the Jeddah Tower, Merdeka PNB 118, and Ping An International Finance Center. In North America, notable projects include the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, Vista Tower in Chicago, and in New York, the Steinway Building, and all the buildings at Hudson Yards.

Jon has been involved in the development of building codes in North America, has been a member of the ASCE 7 wind loading subcommittee, and is the current chair of the National Building Code of Canada Task Group on Climatic Loads. He is a registered professional engineer in several Canadian provinces and many US states

Design and Performance of Tall Buildings for Wind - Preetam Biswas, PE, LEED (SOM), Sami Matar, PE (LERA) & Alexander Jordan, PE, AIA (SOM)

AbstractRecently published by ASCE/SEI, Design and Performance of Tall Buildings for Wind, MOP 143, provides a framework for the design of tall buildings for wind. This MOP presents detailed guidance on industry standard practices and design approaches that complement current literature, model codes, and standards. The performance of tall buildings in wind depends on a combination of wind climate, loading effects, structural system, and damping. MOP 143 provides recommendations on setting and achieving performance objectives, including:

Selection of the wind loading mean recurrence interval (MRI) for serviceability;

Establishment of performance objectives and acceptance criteria;

Guidance on modeling building structural properties such as stiffness and damping; and Modeling of uncertainties in wind climate, wind loading, and other effects.

This presentation by members of the authorship committee will present the motivations behind the manual and the process of creating it, and discuss the recommendations contained inside.  

Speakers: Preetam Biswas, PE, LEED (SOM), Sami Matar, PE (LERA) & Alexander Jordan, PE, AIA (SOM)

  Preetam has led the design of multiple tall buildings, airports, stadiums, and conventions centers around the globe. He has authored many technical papers focusing on tall buildings and other structural system innovations and served as the chair for the task committee that authored this manual of practice.
  Since joining LERA in 1995, Sami has built extensive experience in a variety of projects and has participated in or led the design of several of the firm’s high rise building projects.