Proven Results in Structural Engineering

February 13, 2017

VCA Joins Habitat for Humanity OC for TCA Golf Tournament

VCA was proud to sponsor the TCA Golf Tournament which helped to raise over $108,000 for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. All proceeds are used to build and repair affordable homes for hardworking families in Orange County.

 TCA Golf Tournament


December 16, 2016

VCA Celebrates the Holiday Season
With Festive Christmas Party

VCA Celebrated a festive night of eating, drinking, gambling, prizes and fun at our annual Christmas Party. This year was our biggest celebration ever with over 150 employees and spouses/significant others in attendance. A bit thank you to all that participated, it was a great time to recognize all of the hard work occurring over the past year!



January 27, 2016

VCA Structural Completing Innovative Research Project:
Parametric Study of Shear Wall Placement Schemes
in Modern Mid-Rise Wood Construction

VCA is proud to be participating in a research grant being conducted by noted academic and industry experts who have joined together as part of the Light-Frame Performance Modeling Group to evaluate the relative performance of two shear wall placement schemes: (1) the “corridor-only” or “core” scheme and (2) the traditional shear wall scheme with corridor and perimeter shear walls. The analysis relies on a state–of-the-art 3D numerical modeling tool with the capability to predict building performance in the non-linear range of response through collapse. Fragility curves will be developed to compare relative performance of the two shear wall schemes. 

For more information, please download the overview of the shear wall research framework.


December 18, 2014

VCA Team is Proud to Present Holiday Donation to CHOC

The team at VCA made a special holiday donation today to Children's Hospital of Orange County.

The donation to CHOC was made possible by employee contributions across the organization from the design, code and green practices.

"CHOC is the only free-standing Children's hospital in Orange County, serving over 2 million children," said Sarah Butler, Director of Corporate Relations. "No child is ever turned away from CHOC, regardless of their ability to pay. Your support truly makes a difference in the lives of our patients and their families."



September 16, 2014

VCA Structural is Pleased to Welcome Brett Kaufmann, Associate Principal

VCA Structural is growing and to better serve our clients and the building community, we are pleased to announce the addition of Brett Kaufmann as Associate Principal. Mr. Kaufmann brings to VCA extensive experience in Podium and Wrap projects as well as retail developments and hospitality, allowing VCA to respond to increasing demand for services across a full spectrum of design projects.

Mr. Kaufmann has more than 25 years of experience in structural engineering design, project management, construction administration, and consultant coordination. His area of expertise is seismic analysis and design of concrete, steel, wood, and light-guage steel structures across a variety of market sectors.

"Brett is an industry veteran who brings a wealth of experience and know-how to VCA. We are excited about the options he provides for clients," said VCA Structural President Tom VanDorpe.


Tom VanDorpe and Brian Strege of VCA Structural pose with Professor Weichiang Pang of Clemson University, one of the principal researchers, shortly after the collapse testing in San Diego on August 17, 2013.


September 24, 2013

Wood Frame Building Collapsed as Part of Research

VCA has been involved with researchers who recently made news using the UCSD Shake Table to throw a series of maximum credible earthquakes (MCE) at a specially constructed prototype building. This testing is part of ongoing research into the behavior of multi-story wood frame buildings. 

The prototype building was modeled after a type of “soft-story” construction found in the San Francisco Marina District. Researchers collected valuable data while evaluating the effect of retrofit schemes and products on strengthening the first floor.  As the grand finale, they hit the building with a big earthquake and drove it to collapse. The research, known as the NEES Soft-Story research project, was led by Professor John van de Lindt of Colorado State University and other prominent researchers.

New techniques of analysis, called Performance Based design, allow engineers to get better models of how buildings actually behave and when they might be expected to collapse.  As such, allowances are made to consider the effects of all building components, including finishes and interior walls, and not just the structural components assigned to be counted by traditional building code methods.   

Interestingly, researchers have identified how over-strengthening the first story actually can cause other problems to appear elsewhere in the structure, which opens the door to more economical designs. The research effort has helped calibrate other tools useful in finding the sweet spot for good overall performance.

There are implications for new construction of multifamily structures as well.  Watch as VCA continues to be at the forefront of cutting edge research aimed at providing its clients the best solutions and the results they want. 

For more information, visit these web pages:


August 16, 2013

Kickstart Your Resume - Structural Engineering

VCA Structural, a leader in large mixed-use projects, is hiring immediately for a Project Engineer in our Orange County office. This position is intended for engineers who are interested in taking their career to the next level.

The successful candidate will be trained for the following FUTURE accomplishments:

  • Be a leader of 5+ technical professionals.
  • Manage a growing book of business with highly sought after and top-tier clients.
  • Be recognized as a guru of practical structural engineering, both internally and within the industry.
  • Receive glowing reviews from sophisticated clients.
  • Attract several new clients and develop key industry relationships.

If these accomplishments would look good on your future resume, please call April Smith at 714-978-9780 to get started. 


Project Engineer.  Must have 3+ years design experience in wood and concrete.


Highly attractive salary and benefits, including full healthcare, 401k and more.

VCA Structural features a great reputation, great people, great clients, and a very attractive base salary and benefits package. This position requires a team player with competency in production structural engineering design using standard industry software such as RAM CONCEPT and ETABS. 

Other VCA opportunities exist for the following positions:

Structural Project Manager

CAD/REVIT Manager 

Commissioning Manager

Structural Observer (PE required)


July 25, 2013

Considering the Impact of Building Code Revisions on Structural Design 

In past code cycles, VCA has provided in-depth analysis of code revisions and how they affect residential construction. On schedule for January 1, 2014 is the 2012 IBC, and for California, the 2013 CBC. Both promise a host of changes. One structural item impacting all buildings, the ASCE 7-2010 standard, will change seismic loading. In a few locations, these changes look to be dramatic. For example, a multi-story wood-framed building would be affected as follows:


City Approximate Base
Shear Change
Los Angeles (Downtown)
San Diego (Downtown)
Huntington Beach
Elk Grove, CA
San Francisco
Seattle, WA 
Denver, CO
Las Vegas
North of Santa Paula, CA


Base shear is essentially the percentage of building weight used that must be converted into seismic forces and distributed throughout the structure. With the exception of the North of Santa Paula location, which is not a typo, none of the increases shown result in base shears as high as those used in the UBC era. Many engineers have been expecting dramatic changes throughout California, but as the list above shows, this is generally not the case. In fact, many buildings in San Diego can now be designed for a base shear force of not more than 10% of the building weight, which is about half of what was required with the UBC.

Big Changes in Accessibility

In addition to structural codes, big changes will occur with accessibility since the ADA standards are incorporated as a model code and amended in an effort to eliminate the conflicts between Federal and State laws. VCA Code has available a limited number of copies of the new Chapter 11B, which is applicable to most commercial uses. Please contact Tim McCormick at 714-363-4700, ext. 751 for a copy.

CALGreen and Energy Changes

In the world of CALGreen and energy, the codes continue to ratchet up restrictions on energy use. Design teams will be required to be more aggressive with energy conservation strategies, and budgets for testing and commissioning will be impacted. According to Moe Fakih, Director of Sustainability at VCA Green, lighting control systems will need to be acceptance tested for Title-24 and the building commissioning scope has expanded to include design phase commissioning to verify energy conservation measures.

Some Changes Will Be Surprising

According to Charles "Russ" Russell, Vice President of VCA Code, some of the changes are sure to be surprising. For example, existing buildings constructed prior to 1994 with additions or alterations will be subject to new CalGreen and Civil Code requirements to upgrade all plumbing fixtures throughout the structure. CalGreen places triggers at 1,000 s.f. or $200,000 valuation for commercial, with residential triggered by any increase in conditioned space volume. The application and enforcement of these new provisions for existing multifamily structures promises to create some challenges.  

The new 2013 California Engergy Code (CEC) requires a 30% increase in non-residential energy efficiency and a 25% increase for residential. In addition, the CEC boosts requirements on a number of prescriptive items, such as U-Factors, Solar Heat Gain Coefficients and mandates areas for solar ready roofs. For more specifics regarding energy requirements of either residential or non-residential contact VCA Green. We can help with all your energy modeling needs.



VCA's Own Tom Smith Wins Prescott Rally Off-Road Race

The extracurricular activities of VCA’s Tom Smith have filled up his spare bedroom with trophies. The latest is from the Prescott Rally in Arizona where Tom and Eddie Fiorelli won the U.S. Rally Championship Two-Wheel Drive Open Class (2WD Open) event. This event is known as a grueling 10-stage, two-day road race which occurs on closed dirt roads and covers a mixture of twisty mountain passes and high speed desert terrain. It is an annual race that attracted race teams across the U.S. Congratulations to Tom and Eddie.




Sept. 24, 2012

Former RBF Consulting CFO Doug Frost Joins VCA Structural

VCA Structural, the premier multi-family and mixed-use structural engineering firm based in Orange County, Calif., announced the addition of Mr. Doug Frost as Chief Financial Officer to its growing staff.

Mr. Frost comes to VCA after 28 years at RBF Consulting, one of the nation’s leading planning, design and construction firms. He joined RBF in 1984 as the corporate controller, was promoted to vice president of finance in one year and to chief financial officer two years later. He served in that capacity for more than 20 years up to the date of the sale of the firm to Michael Baker, Jr. Corporation in 2011. During his tenure at RBF, Mr. Frost was directly involved in and helped manage the growth of the small local firm he joined in 1984 to see it become one of the most successful regional firms in the nation.

In his new role at VCA Structural, Mr. Frost will be responsible for all financial controls and human resources, joining the senior management team as it guides the growth of the firm.

VCA Structural is a distinguished provider of structural engineering services with a special emphasis in multi-family andmixed-used construction. In addition, via its VCA Green division, the firm provides green building consulting and commissioning.

“We are very excited to have Mr. Frost join our growing team,” says VCA President Tom VanDorpe. “Demand for our services continues to increase, and Doug’s experience in managing growth will provide a key strategic component as we expand to meet the needs of our clients while maintaining the quality service that has been a hallmark of VCA for more than 30 years.”

For more information on VCA Structural, please visit: or call (714) 978-9780.


January, 4, 2012

On the Boards - Wood Framing in REVIT

December 20, 2011
VCA Welcomes Christopher Turner, SE

December 10, 2011
Green Division - Energy Rebates!

December 3, 2011
VCA Appointed to Anaheim Regulatory Relief Task Force Outreach Earlier this year

April 18, 2011
Critical Mass for Business Radio Interview

December 21, 2010
2010 Building Code Update

September 21, 2010
New Wind Policy for Portions of Los Angeles County

September 17, 2010
Case Study: Wood Buildings Aim High - Benefits and Engineering Challenges of Podium Design

June 1, 2010
VCA Forging Ahead With REVIT

January 19, 2010
Anchor Bolts Webinar with Tom VanDorpe - February 16, 2010

November 19, 2009
Anchor Bolts in Light-Frame Construction at Small Edge Distances

November 19, 2009
VCA in the Community

November 12, 2009
Tom VanDorpe presents at the BIA

November 2, 2009
Gold Nugget 2009!

October 6, 2009
VCA and IAPMO Partner up!

August 10, 2009
Six Story Wood-Framed Building over Podium Subjected to Simulated Earthquake

January 9, 2009
VCA Code Group Hosts CASp Seminar

October 7, 2008
Dan VanDorpe Recognized by BIA/OC

October 3, 2008

September 14, 2008
VCA Teams Up With Thomas Cox Architects For Canstruction

September 12, 2008
VCA Employees Set Sail

April 23, 2008
VCA Honors Its Own

March 5, 2008
VCA Senior Principals Co-Author Seismology Article

January 26, 2008
Tom VanDorpe presents at SEAOSC

September 21, 2007
VCA - Vegas Baby Vegas!

September 1, 2006
VCA Designs KB Home Community: A Unique Collaboration between KB Home and Martha Stewart

August 1, 2006
VCA Sponsors Project Engineer at Rally Races

May 1, 2006
Tom VanDorpe Presents at the BIA Quality Control Seminar

January 17, 2006
VCA is Acknowledged at Dedication Ceremony for the Fullerton Interfaith Shelter



  VCA Structural | 1845 W. Orangewood Ave, Suite 200 | Orange, California 92868 | Tel: (714) 978-9780 | Fax: (714) 978-9788 |