Seismic Engineering

The Hinman team’s collective seismic design experience spans new design as well as existing historic and contemporary building retrofits.

Many of our project managers started  as structural engineers specializing in seismic design before expanding into extreme loading structural design, which includes experience in blast and progressive collapse.

As performance-based design evolves, Hinman remains a forerunner in knowledge and application. Hinman teams remain current, developing and applying the latest seismic criteria.


Threat & Risk Assessment

Providing effective protective design solutions requires engineers to listen, understand and interpret a client’s project constraints, often in the absence of a common engineering vernacular. 

Hinman engineers have proven their ability to articulate clear, guiding criteria during early project phases. Hinman approaches projects knowing there are ultimately three classes of threats:

  • known and foreseeable, 
  • known but not considered credible, and 
  • unknown or unforeseeable. 

With these threat classifications in mind, Hinman engineers advise and facilitate owners and stakeholders through the difficult process of identifying specific hypothetical threats that will impact eventual design decisions. Sifting through concerns and defining the most relevant threats requires a subtle balance of design goals and protection concerns. Hinman weighs these and builds a strong foundation that will develop the very best, acceptable risk mitigation solutions.

Probable Maximum Loss (PML) Studies

Hinman engineers perform rapid and detailed building assessments to estimate expected damages due to natural and manmade events, then express them as a function of building replacement cost or Probable Maximum Loss (PML).  

We use our cost-benefit indicator tool and qualitative building assessment expertise to analyze potential losses such as cost, injury and downtime. We coordinate these findings with site threat profiles to provide comprehensive studies that give clients the information they need to make informed decisions about their portfolios.

Our team is also versed in ST Risk software, used for rapid seismic PML studies to determine an owner’s insurance and refinancing needs.

New Buildings

Hinman's involvement through all phases of projects means we will walk with clients from the Feasibility Design through Construction Administration.

Working with our clients from the earliest design stages allows Hinman the opportunity to optimize building occupant protection while limiting costs and architectural vision impacts.

Whether you are planning moderate to low level protection features or a high-risk and critical facility, Hinman has the experience you need. We have assisted design, design-build and design-bid-build project teams in all phases of design and construction.

Performing introductory high level planning and cost-benefit analyses for selected site(s) and building(s) help client make informed decisions based on threat, asset and vulnerability attributes. We will also help determine protective design criteria, as needed.

On the job, we’ll work with design teams to incorporate appropriate physical facility protections.

A client’s structural design requirements will be evaluated using Hinman’s proprietary computer modeling to mitigate the effects of defined threats. This evaluation allows us to make site, architectural, ingress/egress, and MEP building systems recommendations, giving holistic solutions to mitigate potential damages, and facilitate evacuations and rescue efforts.

For lower risk projects, our solutions follow best practices to secure buildings without explicit hardening.

Hinman approaches projects collaboratively. Our commitment to close-working relationships with design teams and timely responses ensure security requirements are seamlessly integrated in every project.

Our structural engineers understand building structures and how to integrate extreme loads in design. Best of all, they know how to make it happen within clients’ economic, constructible and aesthetic constraints.

New design projects have included: embassies, courthouses, federal buildings, USAID office buildings, communication and emergency operations centers, military barracks and training centers, transportation terminals and airport facilities. 

Existing Building Assessment & Retrofit (Seismic)

Sensitivity to our clients' missions and the historic value of facilities is important to us.  

Older, historic structures were not designed for today’s natural hazards or design standards, so our creative retrofit solutions seek to improve occupant safety while at the same time preserving beauty and grandeur.

Since our experience includes both consulting and design, we are able to combine both creative and constructible seismic strengthening design solutions. We use a ‘light’ touch when upgrading buildings. Our approach takes advantage of inherent structural strengths and provides enhancement options to improve or hold building architectural aesthetics at status quo.

To model existing conditions and ensure strengthening measures are implementable, we’ll often be required to test existing materials. In these instances, we follow ASCE 41 guidelines and conduct planning and coordination early in the project because we recognize that selective demolition and laboratory testing will impact your project schedule and budget.

Our vital, efficient and cost-saving designs help clients make informed decisions. Hinman engineers work with project teams to implement constructible retrofits. 

Peer Review

Hinman’s senior staff, with its extensive structural design expertise, provides independent and objective technical reviews for complex and extreme loading conditions.  

As peer reviewers, our philosophy is to partner with structural engineers in approaching analysis and design, ensuring governing code intent and criteria are properly implemented. At each stage of design, we review drawings and calculations to ensure conformance and improve performance, constructability and cost.

Value Engineering

Hinman’s expertise in conventional construction materials and processes coupled with in-depth understanding of extreme loads on structures makes our input a valuable addition to any evaluation team.

Hinman staff experts offer value engineering studies for proposed construction projects. Our experience has exposed the team to a wide variety of construction conditions and solutions, which we draw upon when evaluating cost effective alternatives. Because our expertise centers on situations where loads are beyond design levels, we bring an intuitive feel for the best approaches to use on any project.

Our relationship with specialty product manufacturers (windows, doors, and walls) allows us to quickly access design and cost data.

Hinman value engineering studies have included critical facilities such as: an emergency call center, a military research laboratory, a federal courthouse, military operations centers, and embassies in volatile locations.


Hinman engineers investigate and evaluate sources of physical damage through careful observation of conditions and debris fields caused by explosions. 

Eve Hinman, one of the few non-emergency response experts permitted on site after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was listed as an expert witness in the Timothy McVey trial. Her findings can be found in Lessons from the Oklahoma City Bombing, Defensive Design Techniques, a book she co-authored with David Hammond. Eve has has testified in numerous federal court cases.  

In addition to building explosions, Hinman evaluates industrial tank and boiler blasts. 

Expertise in investigative explosive incidents includes: methane and propane gas explosions; petrochemical vapor cloud explosions; ammonium nitrate (AN); and fuel oil (ANFO) improvised explosive attack; and munitions destruction. 

Building construction types investigated include: unreinforced masonry, non-ductile reinforced concrete, precast concrete, and timber construction. 

Members of Hinman’s senior staff can also investigate seismic and hurricane damage along with construction defects. Hinman has three certified ATC-20 post-disaster trained engineers available to assist in assessment and recovery following a seismic event.

Advanced Modeling

Analytical modeling, conducted before physical testing, allows clients to refine designs and keep testing to a minimum.

Physical testing is a vital but costly opportunity to understand product responses to extreme loading scenarios. Results from physical tests enable Hinman to calibrate advanced Finite Element (FE) models. These analytical models provide simulated and validated behaviors of untested, but similar, component configurations, avoiding the need for repeated and costly physical testing.

Hinman’s advanced structural analysis team uses the state-of-the-art, non-linear, transient, dynamic finite element program, LS-DYNA, to evaluate structural responses to extreme loading.