Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Last updated
Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Industry Structural and civil engineering
Headquarters Seattle, Washington
Key people
John Skilling
Jon Magnusson
Ron Klemencic
Number of employees

Magnusson Klemencic Associates is an American structural and civil engineering consulting firm with its headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The company has completed projects worth more than $99 billion in 48 states and 54 countries. Significant MKA projects through its history include the World Trade Center, the Columbia Center, Aqua, the Doha Convention Center Tower, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and Salesforce Tower.

Structural engineering sub-discipline of civil engineering dealing with the creation of man made structures

Structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering in which structural engineers are trained to design the 'bones and muscles' that create the form and shape of man made structures. Structural engineers need to understand and calculate the stability, strength and rigidity of built structures for buildings and nonbuilding structures. The structural designs are integrated with those of other designers such as architects and building services engineer and often supervise the construction of projects by contractors on site. They can also be involved in the design of machinery, medical equipment, and vehicles where structural integrity affects functioning and safety. See glossary of structural engineering.

World Trade Center (1973–2001) complex of buildings in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States

The original World Trade Center was a large complex of seven buildings in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. It opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. At the time of their completion, the Twin Towers — the original 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet (417 m); and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet (415.1 m)—were the tallest buildings in the world. Other buildings in the complex included the Marriott World Trade Center, 4 WTC, 5 WTC, 6 WTC, and 7 WTC. The complex was located in New York City's Financial District and contained 13,400,000 square feet (1,240,000 m2) of office space.

Columbia Center skyscraper in Seattle, Washington, United States

The Columbia Center, formerly named the Bank of America Tower and Columbia Seafirst Center, is a skyscraper in downtown Seattle, Washington. The 76-story structure is the tallest building in Seattle and the state of Washington, reaching a height of 933 ft (284 m). At the time of its completion, the Columbia Center was the tallest structure on the West Coast; as of 2017, it is the fourth-tallest, behind buildings in Los Angeles and San Francisco.



Magnusson Klemencic Associates was founded in 1920 as the W.H. Witt Company [1] in Seattle. In 1929, Witt died in a railroad crossing accident and the company passed to partners Harold Worthington and George Runciman (who was referred to as "a leading structural engineer in Seattle" [2] ). During this time the firm designed several notable Seattle buildings, including the Joseph Vance Building and the 1223 Spring Apartment Building. [3]

After the end of World War II the building industry in the United States picked up and the firm grew in size. In 1955 the firm was renamed Worthington and Skilling, reflecting the addition of John Skilling as a partner. [4] John Skilling, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, remained a partner in the firm for over 45 years. [5] Notable projects under Skilling’s leadership include the World Trade Center, IBM Building, and the Columbia Center. During the design of the World Trade Center the firm maintained offices in Seattle as well as New York City.

John Skilling was a civil engineer and architect, best known for being the chief structural engineer of the World Trade Center.

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is an American nonprofit, non-governmental organization. The National Academy of Engineering is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Research Council.

IBM Building (Seattle)

The IBM Building is a 20-story office building in the Metropolitan Tract at 1200 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, Washington. The building was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also was architect of Rainier Tower on the corner diagonally opposite, and the World Trade Center in New York City. Its construction was completed in 1963.

In 1960 the firm name changed to Worthington, Skilling, Helle & Jackson, reflecting the addition of Helge Helle and Joe Jackson as partners. [4] [6] In 1967, John V. Christiansen [7] and Leslie E. Robertson would become partners and the firm would be named Skilling, Helle, Christiansen, Robertson. However, in the early 1980s partner Robertson split the New York City office from the firm to become Leslie E. Robertson Associates. And in 1983 the firm name changed to in 1983, Skilling Ward Rogers Barkshire and Bill Ward [8] was named a partner. [4]

Leslie Earl Robertson is an American engineer. He was the lead structural engineer of the Twin Towers of the original World Trade Center in New York City. He has since been structural engineer on numerous other projects, including the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong.

In 1976 Jon Magnusson joined the firm, having recently graduated from Berkeley. By age 30 Magnusson was a principal, and in 1987 the firm was renamed Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire. At age 34 Magnusson was CEO of the company. In 2003 Magnusson was recognized as an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). [9]

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

Ron Klemencic joined the company in 1992, having spent the previous six years at KPFF Consulting Engineers in Seattle. [10] He was eventually promoted to president, and in 2003 the firm changed its named to Magnusson Klemencic Associates, the first time since 1955 that the name did not reflect John Skilling’s leadership. To date, the tallest building designed in the firm’s history is the 1,808 ft Doha Convention Center Tower, currently under construction.

Below is a summary of the firm’s name changes since its inception.

Notable staff

Magnusson Klemencic has employed many notable engineers. John Skilling, [11] Leslie Robertson, [12] and Jack Christiansen, [13] three of its former partners, are members of the National Academy of Engineering, the most prestigious honor that can be given to an engineer. In his Election Citation, John Skilling is described by the NAE as a "pioneering building engineer." Other awards include Engineer of the Year, awarded by the Structural Engineers Association of Washington, which has been given to several MKA engineers, including Bill Ward, John Skilling, John Hooper, Jon Magnusson, and Michael Valley. [14]

Current Chairman and CEO Ron Klemencic received the 2018 ENR Award of Excellence for "daring to innovate, for spearheading the age of cooperative R&D and for his relentless pursuit of a better and more constructible built environment." In 2019, Ron was honored with the ASCE Outstanding Project and Leaders (OPAL) Award. The OPAL Award recognizes one leader in each of five categories—Design, Education, Government, and Management—with Ron earning the award for his innovation, leadership, and lifetime achievement in the design category. Ron was the volunteer chairman of the nonprofit Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat from 2001 to 2006. He serves as a director for the Charles Pankow Foundation and with a grant from them, he led the development of performance-based seismic design for structures. [15]

Notable projects

Since 1996, MKA projects have won the Grand Conceptor Award three times. The Grand Conceptor Award is the highest award given by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). [16] It is awarded to the best overall engineering project in the country each year. MKA was given the Grand Conceptor Award for the KeyArena (1996), [17] the Seattle United States Courthouse (2006), [18] and the Olympic Sculpture Park (2008). [19]


The following is a partial list of notable skyscrapers [20] designed by MKA. The World Trade Center was designed by partners of the firm, including Leslie Robertson, before he departed to found his own company, Leslie E. Robertson Associates.

Stadiums, public spaces, and other projects

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