Glenn R. Bell, P.E., S.E., F.SEI, Dist.M.ASCE, an internationally renowned structural engineer and engineering leader with more than 45 years of experience, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2021 class of Distinguished Members for technical excellence in structural design, building envelope systems and earthquake engineering, building the practice of forensic engineering, co-founding the ASCE Forensic Engineering Division and Collaborative Reporting of Seismic Safety–U.S. (CROSS-US), and professional leadership here and abroad, including educating, training, and mentoring of young design professionals.
Bell is a leader and visionary. He was the principal and structural engineer of record on hundreds of projects, from new ground-up buildings to existing buildings, and headed up hundreds of investigation, evaluation, and rehabilitation projects. He passed on his technical knowledge in his teaching role at Tufts University, MIT, Tufts Gordon Institute of Technology, and as visiting scholar at the University of Bath, UK. In addition, he envisioned and is now conducting an online Career Series for SEI young professionals.
In 2012, Bell developed a vision for the future of structural engineering, which he presented at the keynote address at SEI’s Structures Congress. In that address he noted the continued commoditization of civil and structural engineering through the increasing complexity in the building codes, increasing automation of traditional tasks, and the globalization that allowed engineers in third-world nations to compete effectively for services traditionally provided by U.S. engineering. He recognized that these drivers were inevitable, but that commoditization was not, if engineers could look beyond traditional engineering to expand their role as thought leaders in the design/construction environment as well as politically.
Bell was named a 2019 Engineering News-Record Top 25 Newsmaker for spearheading the new CROSS-US. In that same year, he organized the first-ever international conference, held in Dubai, in which ASCE and IStructE members exchanged best practices.
He is the past chief executive officer of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., which he grew from a firm of 120 members and two offices to an internationally prominent, ENR top-500 consultancy with a staff of more than 600 located in offices in Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
As a structural engineer, Bell’s iconic projects include SpaceShip Earth, the geodesic dome at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, Steven Holl’s MIT Simmons Hall, and the Baha’i Temple in Santiago, Chile. He has also been professionally active his entire career in the area of earthquake engineering, and is a frequent guest speaker on subjects such as sustainable design, integrated design, and developing the next generation of engineers.
Bell’s accomplishments have been acknowledged in the United States and abroad. A few honors are the SEI Dennis Tewksbury Award in 2019, the SEI President’s Award in 2018, and ASCE’s Edmund Friedman Professional Recognition Award in 2014. He has an Eminent Professional Fellowship from the Institution of Structural Engineers (UK).