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California Hospital Seismic Designer Ken Liu, 62, Dies

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Kenneth Liu helped lay the foundation for major seismic redesigns of hospitals throughout California.
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Kenneth Liu, 62, a California-based architect who helped revise seismic safety rules for the state’s hospitals after the Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes in 1989 and 1994, respectively, died in Los Angeles on May 1. The cause of death was not given.

Liu and colleagues Ken Lee and Erich Burkhart launched Lee Burkhart Liu Architects (LBL) Inc., Santa Monica in 1986, specializing in hospital design and planning in California. It also worked in China, Guam, Korea and the Philippines.

The 55-person practice reported $10.5 million in 2013 revenue and is ranked by Architectural Record, a sister publication to ENR, among its Top 300 architectural firms. 

Liu’s work laid the foundation for retrofits to 100 California hospitals that sparked a statewide boom in earthquake-resistant healthcare facilities. At the time of his death, Liu was involved in design work to support hospital seismic safety in Japan following the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami.

Due in large part to Liu’s leadership, says the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects in a May 12 online tribute, the firm earned more than 35 AIA design awards, one as firm of the year in 2011.

“We learned from each other,” said partner and longtime friend Lee. “Our personal and professional growth was made stronger because of each other.”


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