This week, we chat with Ibbi Almufti, Associate Principal in the Advanced Technology + Research group in Arup’s San Francisco office where he leads the Risk and Resilience practice. He is also a licensed structural engineer and certified wildfire mitigation specialist.
1. What is the most interesting idea you’ve encountered in your world lately?
We’ve been experimenting with combining sensor technology, risk modeling, and digital twins to simulate the impacts of natural hazard events on the built environment before and after they occur.
2. Where do you think no one is looking right now?
I’m not telling.
3. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your industry?
I would like there to be a direct connection between resilience and insurance premiums to incentivize more owners and developers to construct new buildings and retrofit older buildings to “beyond code” standards.
4. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Helping our clients navigate their risks and guiding them on their resilience journey and then putting our recommendations into practice, including implementing physical retrofits or incorporating operational changes in their organization as a result of our work.
5. What do you envision the next 12 months will bring?
More attention to climate-related risks, particularly wildfire, and hopefully more stimulus to improve infrastructure.
6. What’s your favorite building?
181 Fremont Tower. We designed it using a resilience-based design approach following a guideline that I developed (the REDi Rating System) which aims to achieve much better earthquake performance than other modern buildings. This required some innovative seismic technologies, including viscous dampers (which act as shock absorbers) and uplifting mega columns. It’s a beautiful building that stands out in the San Francisco skyline.
7. Please dispel a myth or misconception about your work.
I can’t think of one.
8. What are the tools, apps, or gadgets that you just can’t live without?
I use WorkFlowy to store my “to-do” list on my phone so I always have access to it when something pops into my head.
Purple Air has become a necessity for us in California with wildfire smoke becoming more of a problem. I had no idea that our air quality was so bad in the winter months – I guess that we’ve just grown up with it and never realized.
9. What’s your biggest pleasant surprise related to remote work?
I’ve always enjoyed remote work so no surprises that it’s worked out well. The reduction in commute stress has been huge and I only live about a 20-30 min bus ride from the office. Really, it’s about not having to rush out the door in the morning to drop kids off, catch the 8:21am bus, get to work 30 seconds before the 9:00am meeting, and then having to do that in reverse every day. So much less stressful.
10. What’s your favorite productivity tip for staying motivated and getting work done?
Honestly, I don’t really have this problem because we have some great projects and clients. I might get in trouble for this, but my wife and I have been splitting our schedule down the middle so we can juggle our childcare situation and work is a lot less exhausting than the kids sometimes! So I don’t really need any extra motivation.