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Ira Hooper, Eminent Structural Engineer, Dies at 93
Posted by Tasha Weiss on July 5, 2013 at 1:17 PM.

ira-hooper-photo-by-franco-vogt-photography.jpgIra Hooper, P.E., a former vice president of STV, and chief structural engineer, passed away last month at the age of 93. Photo: Franco Vogt Photography


Hooper joined STV’s oldest predecessor firm, Seelye Stevenson Value & Knecht, in 1946 and was hired by its founder, Elwyn E. Seelye. During the course of his remarkable 56-year career there, he became one of the country’s most widely respected structural engineers, inspiring his peers and a generation of young professionals who followed in his footsteps.


Dominick M. Servedio, P.E., executive chairman, knew Ira for decades. He said, “Ira was one of the leading structural engineers of his time and gained the respect and admiration of everyone throughout the industry, which is a remarkable achievement. He inspired people to become structural engineers. Young engineers came to the firm specifically because they wanted to work with him and learn from him.”


Widely published, Hooper lectured on an array of topics that included multi-story frames, plastic design, columns with bending, concrete specifications, fire protection, composite construction, aesthetics and rapid design methods for steel and concrete.


In 1985, Hooper received the Special Citation Award from AISC (a precursor to the organization’s Special Achievement Awards). Three years later the Metropolitan Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers named him Engineer of the Year.


Ted Galambos, Ph. D., P.E, emeritus professor of structural engineering at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, also known as the “Father of LRFD,” has credited Hooper as instrumental in the development of LRFD (load and resistance factor design).


Here are Galambos’ recollections of Hooper:


“My major interaction with Ira Hooper was during the 1970s, when he was a member of the Advisory Task Force of the AISC Project 163 ‘Load Factor Design of Steel Buildings.’ This was the research that developed the first draft of what eventually became the AISC Load and Resistance Factor Design Specification. Ravi Ravindra and myself were the young investigators at Washington University in St. Louis. The advisory task force was a most active contributor to the success of the LRFD project, and it consisted of a distinguished group that contributed significantly to the modern AISC Specification: Ivan Viest, Lynn Beedle, Alan Cornell, Ed Gaylord, John Gilligan, Bill Hansell, Ira Hooper,  Bill Milek, “Pinky” Pinkham, and George Winter. Ira Hooper was the last member of this group to die. You can imagine what a privilege it was for a couple of young academics to have the guidance of such a distinguished group, but it was also often frightening to have to stand up to the scrutiny of everything that we did. I must confess that I both enjoyed and dreaded our bi-annual meetings. I valued the guidance I received, and I know I grew intellectually from these encounters. Ira Hooper became a very dear friend and supporter. Among the group he was the most experienced designer who was daily involved in the nitty-gritty of steel structures. He was my conscience who kept my feet on the ground. Throughout the years he was always supportive, helpful and friendly. When he criticized, he was always courteous. I consider it a great honor to have had the opportunity to know Ira and to receive his support, and friendship.”


Active in the industry, Hooper was a member of AISC as well as the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Concrete Institute, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute and the Society of American Military Engineers, among others.


Hooper officially retired from STV in 2005, but continued to be a presence in the office to mentor staff and consult on special projects.


He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Sally Lebofsky Hooper.

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