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July 6, 2022

Don Scott retires from PCS Structural Solutions


Don Scott, who has been in the structural engineering industry for 40 years, retired from full-time partnership at PCS Structural Solutions last month. He will, however, continue to consult for PCS. Scott is a leading expert in performance-based wind design and shares his expertise throughout the country through technical publications, presentations, seminars and National Council of Structural Engineers Association webinars.

In addition, Scott is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers 7 General Provisions Committee, a member of the ASCE 7 Main and Steering Committee, chairman of the NCSEA Wind Engineering Committee, and has been a member of the ASCE 7 Wind Load Committee since 1996, shaping future IBC provisions for wind design.

has established himself as one of the few wind design experts in the U.S. It was in the late 1970s when one of his University of Idaho professors inspired Scott's interest in wind design. The 70s were also when the last concerted effort had been made to perform wind tunnel research in support of the ASCE 7 Wind Provision which set the standard for wind codes. Recognizing that modern structures require updated data, Scott was an active driver with the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute Committee to establish a fundraiser for new wind tunnel studies. The data provided by the studies will inform the next generation wind load standard for ASCE 7-28.

Scott has been formative to the growth of PCS Structural Solutions. He joined a 15-person team at then Chalker Engineers Inc. in August of 1982. “When I started,” says Scott, “the Tacoma Dome was already under construction. I supported the construction efforts, exterior site structures and the neon art installations. This included analysis of the dome roof to support various concert sound systems, which resulted in the design of the permanent light grid to support these systems. I was also involved in the design of the moveable seating and associated ramps throughout the years and the recently completed interior upgrades.”

In 1987, Don Scott, Dan Putnam and Jim Collins purchased the firm, and the next generation of leadership was established at Chalker, Putnam, Collins & Scott Inc. Projects like the Dome and the revitalization of historic downtown Tacoma established the young engineers' careers and the firm in the region. The firm started to grow quickly, particularly making an impact in K-12 and healthcare markets. Today, PCS has 73 employees and a deep resume of work in public, healthcare, residential, commercial, and private markets.

Scott's understanding of how buildings behave was forged over 40 years and a breathtaking 1,000+ projects. “Back in the early 1980s,” Scott remembers, “a typical elementary school set of documents consisted of approximately a dozen sheets. Today a typical elementary school requires 30 to 40 sheets of structural drawings to satisfy the plan review and construction process.” Although the AEC environment has changed over the last four decades, some things remain the same. “Even with all the new technology, the most important factors of a successful construction project are teamwork, good communications and coordination. The relationships between the design team members and the construction team members still determine the success of the project as much as anything else.”

Demonstrating an enduring passion for engineering and an unshakable work ethic, Scott has also helped shape the careers of a new generation of engineers. PCS CEO Brian Phair explains Scott's influence. “Don was the technical mind and anchor of our firm. Don's door was always open for questions.” “The greatest satisfaction has come from seeing the completed project and how it affects the lives of those who utilize the facility. The relationships built with many school district facilities personnel and hospital clients have been the key to enjoying each of the projects that I've been involved with,” Scott says.

Although “retiring,” Scott will remain active as the president of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers and remain on the ASCE 7 Wind Load Subcommittee, where he has served since 1996. Retirement will allow Scott to put the full force of his focus on the leading edge of structural engineering. He's currently leading efforts to incorporate climate impacts into our national standards for environmental loads. “These standards are more forward-looking instead of relying on historical data to set the basis of our design requirements. They will lead to more resilient structures that will help our communities respond to and recover from large environmental events such as hurricanes, snow, ice, flood, and rain,” Scott explains. “I have also served as the Principal Investigator for the development of the Pre-standard of Performance Based Wind Design, which is gaining momentum to be developed into a national standard,” he continued. The team at PCS Structural Solutions sends Scott profound thanks for his work and service.

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