Rafael Sabelli

Senior Principal/Structures

Practice Areas

Rafael serves as the firm’s Managing Director for the San Francisco office as well as the Director of Seismic Design and oversees the seismic design of all Walter P Moore projects that include unconventional structural systems or reside in unusually high seismic locations. Rafael has decades of experience in the design of structurally challenging projects located within high seismic regions, with a focus in the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding areas.


Rafael is an award-winning, recognized industry leader in the development of seismic design solutions and seismic design regulations, and he continues to focus on improving how buildings sustain earthquakes. Rafael is widely published on a variety of technical topics related to the seismic design of important buildings, and has been invited to make numerous presentations to his industry peers. He is also a key figure in the steel industry and led the effort to develop and adopt design procedures for buckling restrained braced frames that ultimately led to his being awarded the T.R. Higgins lectureship.


As immediate past president of the Structural Engineers Association of California, he continues to serve in leadership positions on many professional organizations, sharing his in-depth experience in structurally challenging projects. Rafael is a licensed structural engineer in the states of California, Nevada, and Washington. He earned his Master of Architecture and Master of Civil Engineering from the University of California in Berkeley.


Bachelor of Arts, University of Chicago, 1989
Master of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, 1992
MS in Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1993



  • Fellow, Structural Engineers Association of California, 2013

  • Special Achievement Award, AISC, 2013

  • Fellow, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California, 2012

  • T.R. Higgins Lectureship, American Institute of Steel Construction, 2008

  • NEHRP Professional Fellowship (2000)

  • SEAONC Giles Scholarship (1999)