Joseph P. Colaco, Ph.D., P.E.
Larry Griffis, P.E.

Date: January 11 through April 24, 2021
Remote Learning live stream: Thursdays 5:00 P.M. – 7:40 P.M. EST


This semester long class is devoted to the preliminary design of tall buildings in structural steel, reinforced concrete and composite steel and concrete using the AISC 360 and 341 Specifications, ACI-318 Concrete Code and the ASCE 7 Load Standard. The class is organized to be a practical guide for students who are interested in becoming a design engineer in a consultant office that specializes in the design of tall buildings. In addition to learning the basic fundamentals of tall building design, students will participate in a class project where a 42 story building will be designed using a structural steel, reinforced concrete and a composite structural system.

Topics to Be Covered in the Course:

The following is a tentative list of topics to be covered in the class.

  • What is a “Tall Building”
  • Structural Drawings – Layout and Format
  • Geotechnical Reports
  • Design Loads – ASCE 7 Load Standard
  • Foundation Systems
  • Floor Systems
  • Lateral Load Resisting Systems
  • Structural Analysis Techniques
  • Designing for Wind Loads
  • Wind Tunnel Reports
  • Stability and Second Order Effects
  • Building Sway & Perception to Motion
  • Cladding and Facades
  • Differential Column Shortening
  • Floor Flatness and Levelness
  • Construction Materials, Cost and Benefit

The listed topics will be demonstrated with an actual design of a 42-story high rise office building Class Project performed by student teams during the course of the semester.


No specific textbook is required for the course. Students will require access to the ACI 318-19 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and the AISC 15th Edition Steel Construction Manual. Select references to various textbooks on Tall Buildings available in libraries will be provided in the Syllabus provided to students in the first lecture.

Who Should Attend the Class

Students interested in becoming a practicing engineer for the design of tall buildings or just want to learn about tall building design should consider enrolling into this course. The class could be attended to gain credit towards a graduate degree or to obtain continuing education credit through FIU. The following information is for various groups to register for the class. For each option, please use the link that is provided to obtain the detailed information for the registration process.

Instructor’s Biography

Joseph P. Colaco, Ph.D., P.E. Professor of Practice at FIU

Founding Principal, CBM Engineers, Inc.
Houston, Texas
Education: Ph. D. in Structural Engineering
University of Illinois, 1965
Primary Work Experience: President of CBM Engineers 1975-2005

Dr. Colaco began his career as a young design engineer at Skidmore Owens and Merrill (SOM) in Chicago working under renowned structural engineer Fazlur Kahn. While at SOM, he participated in the design of the iconic 100 story John Hancock Building in Chicago. Dr. Colaco is well known for his contributions to the design of many of the tallest buildings around the world, including the 50 story concrete building One Shell Plaza in Houston, the JP Morgan Chase Building in Houston – a 75 story building which is the tallest composite frame building in the US, the 64 story all-steel office building Williams Tower in Houston and many others. He was a Peer Reviewer of the tallest building in the world – 828 m tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Dr. Colaco is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Lawrence (Larry) Griffis P.E., Professor of Practice at FIU

Senior Principal, Walter P Moore and Associates, Inc.
Austin, Texas
Education: MS in Structural Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 1972
Primary Work Experience: Senior VP and Director of Structural Engineering Walter P Moore and Associates, 1972 – present

Mr. Griffis has directed or made significant contributions to the structural design of over 80 major buildings throughout the United States and internationally. He has combined his 48 years of practical design and management experience with ongoing involvement in numerous technical committees, exploring and documenting specialized structural issues of design, construction, and delivery. Mr. Griffis has developed particular expertise in the design of high-rise buildings including the 60 story concrete office building Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte and the 52 story composite frame office building 3 Houston Center Office building in Houston, long span roof structures (stadiums, ballparks, arenas and convention centers), and the analysis and design of large complex buildings under wind and seismic forces. He is considered one of the top specialists in wind engineering in the US and author and contributor to the development of the ASCE 7 wind load standard used by all US building codes. He has been a pioneer in the design of retractable roof stadiums and ballparks in the US, including Reliant Stadium and Minute Maid Park in Houston, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and the Cardinals Stadium in Phoenix. Mr. Griffis is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.