Joseph Philip Colaco

To Joseph Philip Colaco for his creative innovations in structural systems, his contributions to the advancement of the art and science of design of tall buildings, and his dedicated service to his profession.

President, CBM Engineers, Inc.; Professor, College of Architecture, University of Houston

  • BS, 1960, University of Bombay
  • MS, 1962, Civil Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • PhD, 1965, Civil Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Joseph Philip Colaco is among the leading specialists in building structures worldwide.  He has made notable contributions to the advancement of the design and construction practice of structural engineering as it applies to tall buildings. Colaco has introduced numerous cost-saving innovations that have been widely adopted by many structural engineers.
He began his career in 1965 with the consulting firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, where he worked on the 100-story steel John Hancock Building in Chicago and the 50-story reinforced concrete One Shell Plaza in Houston, Texas. Since 1975, Colaco has been the president of CBM Engineers, Inc. He has done the conceptual design of 50 major building projects, including the 75-story J. P. Morgan/Chase Tower and the 64-story Williams Tower in Houston; 60-story Two Prudential tower in Chicago; 57-story Norwest Bank in Minneapolis; 55-story Nations Bank Plaza in Atlanta; 50-story United Bank Center in Denver; and 48-story 101 California in San Francisco.
Colaco’s innovations include the haunched-girder system, stub-girder system, and partial-tube concept. The haunched-girder system is used to frame floors and develop wind resistance in reinforced concrete buildings. The girders have a greater depth at the columns and a lower depth in the middle half of the floor span in conforming with the structural behavior. The stub-girder system is a composite Vierendeel system for floors in steel buildings. The top chord is the concrete slab, the bottom chord a high-strength steel section, and the web members, which are sections of steel floor beams, are stubs that connect the two chords and complete the Vierendeel frame. The partial-tube concept is one where diagonals connect few of the exterior columns and girders to form vertical trusses that resist the wind loads in every direction. The truss has mostly axial forces and is thus a very efficient way to resist wind loads. 
Colaco is a member of the National Academy of Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Concrete Institute and a Fellow of the Institute of Structural Engineers, U.K. He has been active in numerous professional organizations, including ASCE, American Concrete Institute, Wind Engineering Research Council, and the American Institute of Steel Construction. His awards and honors include the Maurice Van Buren Award for Outstanding Structural Engineering in a Complete Concrete Building Project from the American Concrete Institute, Special Citation Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction, Annual Award for Outstanding Professional from the India Cultural Center in Houston, and the Distinguished Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumnus award from the University of Illinois. His service to the university also has been exemplary. He has lectured in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and is a member of the President’s Council at the University of Illinois.
Current as of 2002.