Celebrating 100 years of structural engineering

Nishkian Dean now IMEG is 100 years old! The Nishkian family established the San Francisco-based Nishkian engineering firm in 1919.

The firm was founded by President Levon Nishkian’s grandfather, Leon Nishkian, a Turkish-Armenian immigrant and talented engineer. Leon Nishkian received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at University of California Berkeley in 1906, only weeks after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake ruptured along the San Andreas Fault. The earthquake left 3,000 people dead, San Francisco in ruins and a massive amount of rebuilding to do. Under his guidance, the company worked on major reconstruction projects as well as several famous projects in its hometown including the old Orpheum and Castro Theaters, the Palace Hotel, and much of San Francisco’s large office buildings. During World War II, Leon Nishkian served as an engineer for many large projects undertaken by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and the Maritime Commission. Nishkian was part of the statewide committee that drew up the state’s building codes, and he also served on the committee of engineers rehabilitating San Francisco schools for earthquake stability in 1933.

By the time Leon’s son, Byron Nishkian, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1940 also with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, his father had established a reputation as an inventive thinker to whom people would consult when traditional solutions failed. One of Leon Nishkian’s most notable achievements was the development of a unique flotation system to “right” the USS Arizona battleship sunk in Pearl Harbor in 1941, allowing the Navy to retrieve the remains of the sailors on the ship.

Byron Nishkian took over the firm after his father died in 1947. He too presided over a series of well-regarded tall building projects, and the company continued designing many Bank of America branches in the West, an engineering center at Stanford University and an earth science building at the University of California Berkeley. Following Byron Nishkian’s death in 1987, the company reins passed to his son, Levon Nishkian. The company at this point had gone through a pair of corporate mergers. 

Levon Nishkian enjoyed working for this merged version of the firm but said he “had other responsibilities and there were times I needed to do other things. So, I just had to move on and start our own firm.” He left the merged outfit to re-launch Nishkian as an independent company in 1989 with partner Kevin Menninger. The rebooted firm grew steadily in the past 30 years. Four offices were established within the Nishkian fold: Nishkian Menninger in San Francisco with Vice President Kevin Menninger; Nishkian Dean in Portland, Oregon which was founded in 1999 with Vice President Edwin Dean; Nishkian Monks in Bozeman, Montana which was founded in 2002 with Vice President Ty Monks; and Nishkian Chamberlain in Los Angeles which was founded in 2007 with Vice President Craig Chamberlain. 

From humble beginnings as a small consulting practice in San Francisco, the Nishkian firm’s century-long legacy spans across three generations of Nishkian men who built the company into the great American engineering success story it is today. One would be hard-pressed to walk through the streets of San Francisco, commute to Silicon Valley, or travel through the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies and beyond without having benefited from the work of Nishkian engineers, a powerhouse team in the world of structural engineering. A great deal has changed over the course of the company’s 100 years in business, but one thing has remained the same throughout the decades — the Nishkian firm’s commitment to building excellence.

Since 1919, we’ve built a stellar reputation for excellence in the provision of our services, coupled with the highest level of integrity and objectivity and an unsurpassed commitment to our clients’ success. We are thrilled to say many of our senior staff have over 25 years’ experience in practice and with the Nishkian team, providing invaluable knowledge and expertise to clients. 

“We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this success without the support, devotion and loyalty of our team past and present,” says President Levon Nishkian. “The entire Nishkian firm is proud that we’ve held our founding principles true to this day – exceptional engineering service, personalized cost-effective solutions, and expansive community involvement. Our success depends on the success of the communities we live, work and play in. We’d like to express our gratitude and big thanks to all our clients, business partners, and employees. In 2019 and beyond the Nishkian firm will continue to provide the quality of services our clients have come to expect, and we look forward to collaborating with many more clients and partners, both new and existing.” 

Our second century of engineering brings our merger IMEG Corp., which also has a longstanding history of more than 60 years. Throughout 2019, the Nishkian firm will celebrate its remarkable and proud history as we integrate with IMEG. A special reception will be held in San Francisco to celebrate the firm’s 100th anniversary and mark a century’s worth of accomplishments and impact in the AEC industry.