A fine couple in "America's Finest City." Ryan met Melissa after moving to San Diego. (Photo Credit: Jason Kim)
Enjoy our latest leadership Q&A about one of our talented principals in DCI's San Diego office. Originally from Washington state, Ryan Slaybaugh has pursued his career in Dallas and Seattle before settling in San Diego. He is a member of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC), Urban Land Institute (ULI), and U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) - San Diego Chapter.
You graduated from Gonzaga University. Are you originally from Spokane?
Our family lived in Clarkston - a small town about two hours south of Spokane. We moved to Vancouver, Washington when I was in high school. Then I moved to Spokane to attend college at GU.
How long have you lived in San Diego?
11 years - my first day with DCI was in the San Diego office in July 2004. I spent some time in Dallas, Texas and then in Seattle before moving to southern California. Dick Hemmen had opened the San Diego office three years before I joined the company as a Project Engineer.
What made you decide to move to San Diego to represent DCI (besides the fabulous temperate weather and ocean views)?
At the time, my sister and her family lived here - so it was an easy transition. I'd spent most of my life in Washington and wanted to try a new city. It wasn't too long before I met my (future) wife, Melissa. We both love it here and are definitely planning to stick around.
Ryan explores Canyonlands National Park
You are knowledgeable about construction practices in both Washington and California. What are the major differences in each state that a structural engineer needs to know when designing solutions for projects located in those areas?
It's been some time since I've designed a project in Washington - the southern California market has definitely kept us busy with local projects. That said, my experience is that Seattle seems to default to post-tensioned (PT) concrete slabs in most buildings. The use of PT in San Diego has definitely increased over the last decade, but we still do a lot of non-PT slabs depending on the client, contractor and building type. Each has its advantages - and we'll work with the owner, architect and contractor to find the best system for each site.
Which DCI projects best represent your engineering design ability?
Concrete towers and wood framed over concrete podium projects are the best examples of my experience. I enjoy working with the design team to make these structurally efficient, while also meeting the architect's intention.
What have been your best experiences at DCI?
I wouldn't say there's one particular moment. The increase in size and capability of the San Diego office has been rewarding though.
"While visiting the Calgary Tower's observation deck, Ryan tests the integrity of the glass floor and imagines how to design one."
What are you seeing as a trend in the A/E/C industries in southern California? And how is your office primed for the future in the industry?
It's no secret that apartments are strong now, with many projects in design and construction. Not long ago hospitality was the most dominant building type in our office. Longer term we're hoping to see more condominiums, senior housing, industrial and office. The research I've seen indicates a growing interest to live in urban environments as well. This is making smaller sites in the downtown core more valuable - leading to some really interesting architectural and structural projects.
We're doing our best to stay diversified and maintain experience in multiple building types. We try to keep a good mix of small to large projects as well. Inevitably, a large percentage of our workload will shift to the major building type of the moment - but with a broad experience base we hope to be ready for upcoming markets.