Professor Joseph Penzien passed away on September 19, 2011. With his passing, we lost an individual who forever changed the course of earthquake engineering. His name is familiar to nearly everyone in the engineering community and his work is cited in countless archival publications dating back to the 1950s.
Penzien was Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, between 1953 and 1988, and was the founding director of UC Berkeley’s Earthquake Engineering Research Center (EERC). He was also a key figure in orchestrating critical collaboration between Japanese and American earthquake engineers beginning in the 1960s and helped to develop a Japan-US cooperative research project that spanned more than thirty years. Later, he enjoyed a fruitful career as principal of his own engineering consulting firm. He is co-author of the definitive textbook, Dynamics of Structures, a classic text that has been widely used by educators worldwide for more than three decades. The most recent edition was updated by Professor Penzien and co-author Ray Clough to reflect the latest approaches and techniques in the field of structural dynamics for civil engineers.
Admired by students and colleagues alike, Professor Penzien was revered for his brilliance, well-liked for his warmth and friendliness, and deeply respected for his mastery of engineering concepts. Professor Penzien will always be remembered as a pioneer in the field of earthquake engineering. We convey to his family our condolences and sympathy during this difficult time. He will be remembered warmly and missed by many. His unique contributions to the profession will be everlasting.
A detailed account of Professor Penzien’s career and achievements is available at the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s Oral History website: