David B Helfant, PhD, ICC

Berkeley, California

General Specialty

Construction Defects
Construction Engineering

Specialty Focus

Accidents - Construction
Codes/Code Interpretation
Concrete Foundations
Construction Defect
Construction Quality Control
Construction Safety
Contract Documents
Hazardous Materials
Project Management/Construction Management

My path architecture has been an evolution that began when I was 15 years old: I designed a passively heated solar powered dome house for my 10th grade science project. That was 44 years ago!  I remember how my dad helped me locate unusual materials for my strange design. The project received an award at the school’s science fair. Concurrently, I developed an interested in the work of Paolo Soleri and Frank Lloyd Wright.

I studied housing, Urban development and research methodology at the University of Chicago.  After receiving my PhD in 1976, I was hired by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to study Native American housing on California reservations. That job resulted in an epiphany: One Day while lying on my back in a dirt crawl space looking up at another springy floor pulling away from the exterior walls, I knew then that I needed to go to school, this time to study architecture, so I could better understand why the Indians’ homes were in such bad condition.

In the early 1980’s thanks to Sandy Hirshen, an architect in Native American communities, and Hank Lagorio, a distinguished “earthquake architect”, I became a post doctoral scholar at the Center for Environmental Design Research at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. Seismicity and structural reinforcement became my focus. It was early in the developing field of ” earthquake engineering and reinforcement” and I pursed what became a deep interest that combined architecture and structural engineering. This effort led me t o publish several articles and a book entitled ” Earthquake Safe: A Hazard Reduction Manual for Homes.” By coincidence, I finished writing the book in 1989, one month before the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and immediately found a publisher.



  • Post Doc Arch Engineering, UC Berkeley
  • PhD, U of Chicago
  • MA , Columbia University
  • BS, Cornell University


Memberships/ Licenses

  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Professional Member, International Code Council
  • Associate member American Institute of Architects
  • Charter member Structural Engineering Institute, ASCE.
  • California State License Board:
  • General Engineering
  • General Building
  • Hazardous Material Removal and Remediation Certificate
  • C21: Building Moving and Demolition
  • BS, PhD, Post Doctorate: Architecture & Engineering, CA “A”-Gen.Engr., CA “B”-Gen.Bldg., CA “C-21”-Demolition, Hazardous Remediation Lic., ICC #266760



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