Rafael Sabelli

Rafael Sabelli

Rafael Sabelli, PE, SE

Senior Principal

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.

See Rafael's discussion on Beyond Code: Engineering Buildings for Extreme Performance.

Why did you choose Walter P Moore?
The creativity and energy of the people. I knew Larry Griffis; [they’re] changing what structural engineering means, how it’s done.
If you had to choose a different career, what would it be?
Stage set designer. I love the temporary nature of the constructions and the freedom that gives.
Who or what inspires you?
A unique engineering challenge
What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?
Working with a creative team and solving problems together: architects, mechanical engineers, contractors, the internal Walter P Moore teams


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Engineer Answers Sinking Questions, television interview with KRON4 San Francisco, 2018

Engineering Safer Skies, published in Passenger Terminal World, 2016 Annual Showcase

FEMA 451 Seismic Design Examples – Application of Building Code Requirements; SCBF and BRBF Systems, Building Seismic Safety Council, 2010

NCSEA Diaphragm Design Guide, ICC with Badri Prasad and Doug Thompson, 2009

Steel Plate Shear Walls, (AISC Design Guide Series), American Institute of Steel Construction, 2007

Design of a Buckling-Restrained Braced Frame Utilizing 2005 Seismic Standards, Proceedings, ASCE Structures Conference, 2005