Soil Testing Companies Background on soil testing companies



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Foundation Engineers was founded by Jack Rolston in Tarzana, California in 1960, after he worked for the Los Angeles District of the Corps of Engineers (profiled in the southern California threadline).
Arthur T. Knutson, GE (1913-2002) went to work for Marin County Public Works in early 1960s, thru the mid-1970s. In mid-1970s he opened his own consulting firm, Arthur T. Knutson, Inc. based in Novato.
Lennert & Associates (1963-92)

Ben J. Lennert, GE (1924-2002) (BSCE ’50 Berkeley) was a consulting soils and foundation engineer who worked out of Oakland, and later, Berkeley. He worked for Lee & Praszker for more than 10 years when he had a disagreement with Mike Praszker and decided to start his own consultancy around 1963-64. The firm was based out of Oakland, then out of his home in Berkeley (1970s), and he moved to the Napa Valley in 1979, where he continued working out of his home for many years.

One of Lennert’s notable contributions was his early recognition of asesimic creep of the Hayward fault at Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, working with USGS engineering geologist Dorothy Radbruch-Hall, CEG. This effort was memorialized in Tectonic creep in the Hayward fault zone, California (USGS Circular 515), released in 1966. After this Lennert did a lot of consulting work for the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), often working with Campus Engineer John Shively in the early 1970s. The Lennert Aquifer in the Moraga Formation volcanics beneath LBL is named after him.

Lennert frequently collaborated with Berkeley Geology Professor Garniss H. Curtis, PhD, RG (1919-2012) as a consultant. Curtis grew up in San Rafael and received his BS in mining engineering from Berkeley in 1942. He then worked for Christmas Copper and Shell Oil before returning to Berkeley in 1949 to work on a doctorate in geology, which he completed in 1951. He then joined the geology faculty, working on volcanism. Nine years later (1960) he and geophysics colleague Jack Everden established Berkeley’s Geochronology Center, which led the world in K/Ar age dating. Lennert and Curtis also engaged in numerous studies evaluating aseismic creep of the Hayward fault in the Berkeley Hills, which they published between 1980-85. As he grew too old to continue working, Lennert moved to Marina (near Monterey), where he passed away in 2002. Curtiss died in Orinda on December 19, 2012, at age 93.

Donald Hillebrandt & Associates was founded by Donald H. Hillebrandt in 1975 (described in Lowney-Kaldveer threadline).
John H. Raney founded Raney & Associates in Sacramento (described in Sacramento area firms threadline)
John H. Hovland, GE (PhD ’70 Berkeley) went onto became Chief Geotechnical Engineer of PG&E in San Francisco in the mid-1970s thru the 1980s. He occasionally consulted on parcels in the Claremont Canyon area, not far from where he lived, in the Berkeley Hills.
Milstone Geotechnical (1990-present)

Milstone Geotechnical was founded in 1990 by Barry Milstone, GE (BSCE ’80 UNH; MS ’85 VPI) in Los Gatos (after working for Cotton-Shires from 1985-90). For many years he used Tim J. Manzagol, CEG (BS Geol ’73 Michigan Tech) of Applied Earth Science Consultants in Redwood City as his consulting engineering geologist.


Rockridge Geotechnical was founded by Craig Shields, GE in 2006 (described in Harding Lawson threadline).
Woodward-Clyde Consultants threadline (in Berkeley thread)
Woodward, Clyde & Associates (1950-59); Woodward-Clyde-Sherard & Associates (1959- 70); Woodward-Lundgren & Associates (1970-78); Woodward Clyde Consultants (1978-97); URS-Greiner (1997-2014); AECOM (2014-present)

The firm was established in January 1950 in Oakland as ANDCO, using the first initials of the first names of the three partners: Arnold Olitt (1913-1993), Ned P. Clyde (1920-1999), and Richard J. “Dick” Woodward, Jr. (1907–1998), each having contributed $50 to capitalize the new firm. Woodward was a native of Pueblo, Colorado who attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs, receiving his BS degree in geological engineering in 1930, about eight months after the Great Depression began. Unable to find employment, he worked in his father’s grocery store in Pueblo for about eight years until he found a higher-paying job at a warehouse in Laramie, Wyoming. This experience led to a position at Mare Island Naval Shipyard on the eve of the Second World War (1940).

During the war Arnold Olitt (BSCE ’44 Berkeley) began teaching extension courses for U.C. Berkeley to Navy personnel at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, where Dick Woodward was one of his students. Olitt encouraged Dick to pursue a graduate degree in civil engineering at Berkeley, so Dick enrolled in Berkeley’s master’s program in January 1946. There he met Ned Clyde, who had recently completed his master’s degree and was teaching soil mechanics principles, mostly applied to pavement design. Clyde (BSCE ’42 Utah State; MS ’45 Berkeley) was the son of George Dewey Clyde (BSCE ’20 Utah State, MS ’23 Berkeley), Dean of Engineering at Utah State in Logan, who also served as two-term governor of Utah (1957-65). Ned matriculated through ROTC and the CE program at Utah State between 1938-42, receiving his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers in June 1942, and rising to the rank of Captain by January 1944. Just before his unit was deployed overseas Ned was medically discharged for acute asthma. Not wanting to return to Logan during the war (when all the other men were away fighting), he decided to attend Cal Berkeley, his father’s alma mater, which was a life-long aspiration (following in his father’s footsteps). He completed his masters in 1944-45 and began teaching courses at Berkeley in the fall of 1945, about the time Dick Woodward arrived as a middle aged grad student. Dick began lecturing in the fall of 1946, while working on his master’s degree, so he, Ned, and Arnie Olitt soon found themselves teaching together, between 1945-50 (Olitt taught structures courses).

Three of their students would later figure prominently in the growth of Woodward-Clyde Consultants: Jim Sherard (’46), Doug Moorhouse (’50), and Ray Lundgren (’50). James L. Sherard completed his BSCE degree at Berkeley in 1946 and his master’s in 1948, before heading to Harvard to work with famed soil mechanics Professor Arthur Casagrande (he received his Sc. D. in 1951). Doug Moorhouse completed his BSCE at Berkeley in 1950 and went to work for the California Division of Highways.

In 1949 Dick and Arnie began discussing the possibility of forming a consulting firm, planning the various steps and how they would finance the start-up, beginning on January 1, 1950. Near the end of these deliberations they invited Ned Clyde to oversee the field operations, because he had become a registered engineer in July 1949 (RCE 7728), which was essential to the legal establishment of their firm. After Dick Woodward passed the CE exam the following spring (becoming RCE 8229 in July 1950), the firm changed its name to Woodward Clyde Consultants in 1951. Arnie Olitt served as the new firm’s business manager. Although Olitt never pursued his engineering registration, he served as President of ASCE’s San Francisco Section in 1968, before moving to New York in 1970 to oversee Woodward Clyde’s East Coast operations.

A few years after Jim Sherard completed his doctorate at Harvard he became the fledgling firm’s fourth partner in 1953, managing their first branch office, in Denver. The Denver office served the emerging water resources engineering market, doing work for the Bureau of Reclamation and the Denver Water Board, among others. Many expected that Dick Woodward would return to his native Colorado, but he never did. A California native, Jim Sherard (1925-87) moved to the firm’s Oakland headquarters around 1959, and the Oakland office became Woodward-Clyde-Sherard & Associates. Sherard retired and lived in Bermuda in the late 1970s, then moved to La Jolla, CA in the 1980s, where he actively consulted on embankment dams until he died in October 1987, at age 62.

By 1960 the firm had established offices in Oakland, Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Montclair, NJ, St. Louis, San Diego, and New York City. Gerald L. Baker (BSCE ’56; MS ’58 Berkeley) joined the firm in 1957, and moved to San Diego as that office’s Chief Engineer (he became VP of administration at the firm’s Clifton, NJ office in the 1970s). Stan Gizienski (BS ’43 Massachusetts, MSCE ’48 Harvard) opened their San Diego office in 1959 and Leonard M. Krazynksi (BSCE ’58 Wash State, MS ’60 Berkeley) was the first manager of their branch office in Orange County, which opened around ~1962. Ray Lundgren (BSCE ’50, MS ’53 Berkeley) joined the firm in 1952, invested funds to become a partner, and supervised the branch office in San Jose when it opened around 1962 and the Oakland office as well, by 1972, as Executive VP. All of these principals began working for the firm out of their Oakland headquarters. In 1962-63 four of the firm’s senior partners, James L. Sherard, Richard J. Woodward, Stanley F. Gizienski, and William A. Clevenger (BSCE ’43 Wyoming) co-authored the text Earth & Earth-Rock Dams, published by John Wiley & Sons of New York. This book helped establish the firm’s technical expertise in embankment dams. Woodward, Bill Gardner, and David Greer also combined to write the text Drilled Pier Foundations, published by McGraw-Hill in 1972.

One of the many consultants Woodward Clyde used was Professor Dimetri P. Krynine, PE who had taught soil mechanics at Yale and who authored one of the first textbooks in English on soil mechanics, in 1941. Krynine had retired from Yale in 1947 and moved to Alameda (his son was a Professor of Geology at Yale and at Penn State, who had attended Cal Berkeley in the late 1920s). He served as a consultant to Woodward Clyde until he passed away in 1967, and bequeathed his professional library to the firm.

In 1970 Woodward Clyde began splitting their principal offices into separate LLPs, such as Woodward-Lundgren & Associates, which was the name used by Oakland office between 1970-78. Woodward Clyde rapidly emerged as ‘super consultants’ doing all sorts of high visibility jobs, for the federal government and the Department of Defense. When they started getting sued for the single family residence work, they veered away from this market, and completed that shift by 1975, leaving that work to their competitors.

Douglas C. Moorhouse (1926-2012) (BSCE ’50 Berkeley; MS ’63 Harvard) joined the firm in 1955 after working for the State Division of Highways for five years. He worked in Oakland, then managed the San Diego office before moving east, to attend Harvard while working at the firm’s New York area office in Clifton, NJ. He completed his master’s taking a mix of courses in geotechnical engineering and the Harvard Business School, graduating in 1963. He then co-managed the Clifton, NJ office. In 1973 he succeeded Gene Waggoner as Woodward Clyde’s third President for three years, during the company’s largest period of expansion. Bill Clevenger (1919-2009) came from Denver to San Francisco to become Chairman of the Board (retiring in 1984). Moorhouse was named CEO in 1976 and oversaw the establishment of overseas offices till 1987, when he succeeded Dick Woodward as Chairman and CEO, until retiring in 1992. An Oakland native, Moorhouse had a forceful persona that was shaped by his service as an infantryman in the Army’s 66th Division during the Second World War. During a pitched battle near St. Nazaire, France he was seriously wounded, and vowed that if he survived, he would complete college at U.C. Berkeley.

In 1978 the firm took the name Woodward Clyde Consultants, which it kept until it acquisition by URS-Greiner in 1997. That same year the firm moved its corporate headquarters to San Francisco, then to Walnut Creek a few years later (around 1984-85), then back to Oakland in the early 1990s. In 1997 WCC was purchased by the URS–Greiner combine for $100 million. By that time they had 162 offices with 7000 employees in 17 countries. In October 2014 URS was bought out by AECOM for about $4 billion in cash and shares with another $2 billion in assumed debt.

Some of the original principals in SF Bay Area included: R. J. Woodward, Jr (Chairman), Ned P. Clyde, PE (President for Field Operations), and George E. Hervert, PE (BSCE ’48 Nebraska) joined the firm in 1956 and became Chief Engineer of the Oakland office, and later, Vice President for Administration. Bernard “Barney” A. Vallerga, PE became VP and later spun off Materials Research & Development, a Woodward Clyde subsidiary (described below). John A. Trantina, CEG (BS Geol ’38 SD Mines, MS ’37 MSM) joined the firm as their chief geologist in 1956, after serving as chief geologist of the Omaha District of the Army Corps of Engineers (he retired from WCC in 1973). Geologist Lloyd S. Cluff, CEG (BS Geol ’60 Utah) joined the firm in 1960 and by 1966 had become VP and Chief Geologist (he went onto become Director of PG&E’s Geosciences Department and their Earthquake Risk Management Program, between 1985-2011).

Geologist Eugene “Gene” B. Waggoner, CEG (1913-91) (BA Geol ’37, MA ’39 UCLA) joined the firm in 1960, after 10 years with the Bureau of Reclamation and six years running his own consulting firm in Denver. He became Woodward Clyde’s second President and CEO in 1967, after serving as President of the American Consulting Engineers Council the previous year (1966-67). Waggoner was proactive in involving the firm in the formation of the Association of Soil and Foundation Engineers (ASFE) in 1968-69, to help solve the liability insurance crisis that had overtaken the profession in the late 1960s (Woodward Clyde also stopped providing services for single family dwellings). Waggoner stepped down as CEO in 1973, but remained in the Bay Area throughout his retirement. Woodward (’77), Cluff (’78), Moorhouse (‘82), Vallerga (’87), Waggoner (’87), I.M. Idriss (’89), and Clevenger (’90) were elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Other notables included: Ed Margason, GE, CEG (BA Geol ’52, MSCE ’64 Berkeley), who had a balanced background for managing the Oakland office, between 1967-83 (he was first practitioner in California to pass the PE, RG, and CEG written exams). Other senior geotechnical engineers of the 1960s and 70s included: Senior Project Engineers Bernard B. Gordon (BSCE ’36 MIT; formerly of DWR), John E. O’Rourke, GE (BSCE CCNY; MSA Vermont), Jeff Hilliard, GE (BSCE ’63; MS ‘75 Berkeley) (became VP of John T. Warren & Associates), Rick Holsinger (1975-78), and Randall J. Essex, GE (BSCE ’75 Rochester; MS’76, MEng ’77 Berkeley), who became Exec VP for Hatch Mott MacDonald in 2001. After Leeds Hill was acquired by WCC in 1982, they used Thomas A. Lang (former Chief Engineer of Leeds, Hill & Jewett) as a senior consultant. Another engineer who came from Leeds-Hill was John A. Bischoff (BSCE SJSU; MSCE ’74 Berkeley), who initially worked out of Santa Ana, and later managed the San Jose office, after Ray Lundgren retired.

The senior engineering geologists in the late 1960s included VP John Trantina, CEG, Lloyd Cluff, CEG (from Utah in 1961), Charles L. “Chuck” Taylor, CEG (from DWR in Sept ’59), Albert P. Ridley, CEG, Fred R. Conwell, CEG, Kenneth D. Weaver, CEG, Robert G. Russell, CEG, Lewis L. Oriard, CEG, RGP, Frank N. Toor, CEG, Murray Levish, CEG, Robert W. Abbott, CEG, Richard J. Bielfeld, and J. Ross Wagner, PG (BA Geol ’67; PhD ’78 Berkeley).

Partner and VP Ulrich Luscher (BSCE ’56 Fed Inst Tech-Zurich; MSCE ’59; ScD ’63 MIT, Asst Prof at MIT 1963-67) joined the firm in 1967 and directed their dams group until 1988, when he was succeeded by Heinz Berger, GE (MSCE ’79 Berkeley), and later, by Noel Wong, GE (BSCE ’77 Cornell; MS ’78 Berkeley), who came from Leeds-Hill & Jewett in ‘82. Sr VPs in 1990s included Robert C. Kirby, GE Guilaine Roussel, PE, H. Richard Soennichsen, PE, Heinz Berger, GE, Noel Wong, GE, Lelio Mejia, PhD, GE (BSCE Xavier; MS ’78; PhD ’81 Berkeley)[came from Harding Lawson in 1989], John A. Peterson, PE, and several others. Their Vice President and Senior Engineering Geologist was David J. Gross, CEG (retired from CA DWR). Other senior associates included Hans W. Ewoldsen, PhD, CEG (BSCE ’62, PhD GeoE ’66 Berkeley), Stephen J. Klein, GE (MSCE ’79 Berkeley), Mark Freitas, GE, (BSCE ’80, MS ’82 Berkeley), etc.

During his tenure with Woodward Clyde VP & Chief Geologist Lloyd Cluff, CEG was successful in engaging many of the biggest and brightest names in the geosciences as technical consultants on seismic hazards, including professors Bruce A. Bolt, PhD, RG, RGP and Harry Seed, PhD of Cal Berkeley, Clarence Allen PhD, CEG, RGP of Caltech, and D. Burt Slemmons, PhD, RG of Nevada-Reno. In 1974 Woodward Clyde became the first northern California firm to employ an engineering seismologist when they brought in Don Tocher, PhD, CEG, RGP from the USGS as Principal and Chief Seismologist. Tocher received his training at Berkeley (AB Phy ’45; MA ’52 and PhD Geophy ’56 Berkeley) working under Perry Byerly as the Berkeley Seismographic Station’s Research Seismologist from 1956-64, then with the USGS from 1964-74. A native of Hollister, Tocher (1926-79) was the first to identify aseismic creep of the San Andreas fault at the Cienega Winery south of Hollister, where Tocher he up the first Earthquake Mechanism Laboratory for the USGS in 1964-67. He died of cancer in July 1979 at age 53.

The early to mid-1970s brought a significant growth spurt to the engineering geology group. Some of these projects included: assessing the Denali Fault and other geologic hazards posed to Alyeska Pipeline Service operations in Alaska, assessment of the 1973 Managua, Nicaragua earthquake, work for Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS, Satsop and others), Battelle Memorial Institute’s Paradox Basin Nuclear Waste Isolation Project (WIP), and the US Bureau of Reclamation, to assess the potential seismic threat to Auburn Dam (then under construction). Lloyd Cluff fielded as many as 150 geologists to evaluate these seismic hazards.

Some of the geologists Cluff hired included: Burt Slemmons, PhD, RG, Kerry Sieh, PhD, RG Dave Schwartz, PhD, RG, Marjorie [Whallon] Korringa (BA Geol ’64 Radcliffe; PhD ’72 Stanford), Bill Lettis, PhD, CEG, Norma Biggar, CEG (BA Geol ’70 Antioch Col; MS ’74 Alaska), Duane R. Packer (BA Geol ’69 Colorado Col; PhD Geol/Geophy ’72 Alaska), Woody Savage PhD, RGP (PhD Seism ’76 Nevada-Reno), George Brogan, CEG (BA ’66; MS ’69 SDSU), Paul Somerville (BS Geophy ’69 Univ New England (Australia); PhD ’76 British Columbia), Walt Silva (PhD Geophys ’79 Berkeley), Dave Gross, CEG, Bill Hansen, CEG, Al Renga, CEG, Bill Page, CEG, Richard Ely, RG, Larry Hutchings (went onto LLNL), Ivan G. Wong (MS Geophy ‘79 Utah), John Thackston, CEG, Jeff McCleary, Karen C. McNally (PhD Geophy ’76 Berkeley; faculty at UCSC), Terry Grant, RG, Marc Seeley, CEG, Gary Carver, (PhD Geol ’72 Washington), Tom Rogers, CEG (MS ’57 Berkeley) (retired CDMG), Katherine Hanson, Bob Harpster, CEG (MA Geol ’57 Texas), and Ben E. Lofgren, CEG (MS Geol ’47 Utah) retired from the USGS and worked in the Sacramento branch office. Bob Harpster (1930-2014) came to WCC from CA DWR and went onto become a VP at the firm’s headquarters in San Francisco in the 1980s. Many of these geologists went onto distinguished careers elsewhere (Korringa was killed in 1974 aboard TWA Flight 841 between Athens and Rome, later attributed to a bomb planted by the PLO). Within Woodward-Clyde, Duane Packer established the first commercial paleomag lab in the world in the late 1970s, where he was assisted by Phyllis Corbett, RG.

Around 1972 Woodward Clyde also established the first hydrogeology group in the Bay Delta Region. At various times, this group included: Richard Weiss, Carl Fricke, Dave Stephenson, John Thackston, Dave Kirchner, Frank H. ‘Bert’ Swan, CEG (BS Geol Johns Hopkins), Jeff Gilman, and Dennis McCrumb. In 1980 Weiss started the first hydrogeology firm in the Bay Area (profiled below). A few years later (1983) Fricke teamed up with geotechnical engineer Jim Levine of Woodward Clyde to form Levine-Fricke (also profiled below). Stephenson established a string of small firms working mainly out of Phoenix and Denver. Dave Kirchner also remained in the inter mountain west, establishing his own hydrogeology practice in Phoenix and Denver areas.  

Woodward-Clyde developed an impressively diverse clientele, which included a substantial portfolio of work with the Department of Defense, including Sandia National Lab, and the Air Force. Robert L. “Bob” McNeill, PhD, PE (BSCE ’55; MS ’57 Berkeley; DSc ’65 New Mexico) joined the firm as a volunteer soils tech in 1955, and after matriculating thru West Point and UC Berkeley (1950-57) and the University of New Mexico (1963-65) directed much of this work, known as the Special Projects Division (in the late 60s-early 70s). A large portion of this defense related work included the WOWIG, or world-wide geology project intended to asses geologic conditions for atomic demolition munitions (ADM) penetration (after a B-52 lost four nuclear warheads before crashing near Palomares, Spain in Jan 1966).


Derivative firms of Woodward Clyde
Materials Research & Development (1964-82); B.A. Vallerga Inc. (1982-99): Nichols- Vallerga & Associates (1998-present)

Firm founded by Bernard A. “Barney” Vallerga, PE, NAE (1921-2013) (BSCE ’43, MS ‘48 Berkeley) and Cecil J. Van Til in1972 based in Oakland, originally as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Woodward-Clyde. Fritz S. Rostler (PhD Chem ’34 Univ Vienna) joined the firm when it opened in 1964 and served as VP for Research.

Barney Vallerga grew up in Oakland, where he was student body president at Fremont High School (Class of ’39). He attended Cal Berkeley, receiving his BSCE in 1943. He then served as a captain of Army Engineers with Patton’s Third Army in Europe, until 1945. After the war, he found employment with the Hershey Inspection Bureau and began working on his master’s at Berkeley, which he completed in 1948. From 1947-53 he taught pavement design at U.C. Berkeley as a member of the civil engineering faculty. Between 1953-60 he served as Managing Engineer for the Asphalt Institute’s Pacific Coast Division. He pioneered the development of applying oils and resins to reconstitute asphalt pavement. This work led to the widespread use of restorative agents in the asphalt pavement recycling industry, and he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1987. Vallerga was an Honorary Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists and a Founding Member of the International Society for Asphalt Pavements. In 1990, Vallerga was elected to the Roll of Honor, the highest Achievement Award conferred by the Asphalt Institute.
Remmil Corporation (1967-81); Ned Clyde Construction (1981-present)

In 1967 Ned Clyde (1920-99) took on the additional responsibility to oversee the operations of Remell Corporation, which was created by Woodward-Clyde to repair structures damaged by expansive soils and earth movement, to reduce financial losses engendered by lawsuits against the firm. It was located at 2811 Adeline Street, catty-corner from Woodward-Clyde’s Oakland office.

When these remedial construction activities were completed, Ned Clyde formed an independent firm in 1981, which he christened Ned Clyde Construction (NCC). It was located off MacArthur Blvd in east-central Oakland. They could perform their own engineering schemes, or bid projects designed by other engineers. During the 1980s they often used W.B. Clausen Structural Engineers to do their structural design work.

The firm moved to more expansive quarters in Concord around 1989. Ned’s son-in-law Myron R. Hagen (BS Geol ’72 BYU) succeeded as CEO when Ned Clyde died in 1999. Steve O’Connor, PE, William J. Gibson, PE, and John S. Pack, GE all worked for NCC at their Concord location at one time or another. John Laviolette, CEG (1947-2014) (BS Geol ’71; MS ’80 CSULB; MSCE 2005 Berkeley) worked for NCC from 1998-2007. In 2012 their principal engineers included Ned Clyde’s grandson Jon Hagen, GE (BSCE 2001 Utah State) (previously with Fugro West), and Paul Brown, PE (BSCE Arizona).

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