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Henry Lagorio

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Henry Lagorio Obituary
Henry John Lagorio

Mar. 23, 1923, to Oct. 1, 2013

Henry Lagorio passed away on Oct.1, in Berkeley CA. He was born March 28, 1923, in Oakland to Agostino and Guiseppina Lagorio (both deceased) who had emigrated from Sarmoria, Italy. His brother, Elmer, and sister, Elena, both preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Natalie Croce Lagorio.

He spent his early years in the Temescal area of Oakland, graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1941 at which time he entered UC Berkeley (UCB), received his degree in Architecture in 1944, and his Masters in Architecture in 1945. He then entered the US Army and served as a Staff Sergeant to the end of the war.

Upon his discharge from the army he was hired as an instructor in the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley and retired as a Professor from UCB after 43 years of teaching.

In 1960, while on sabbatical in Rome, he met Natalie Croce, also from Oakland, who was working at the American Embassy, and they married in San Francisco in 1962. They made Berkeley their home until they started "chasing earthquakes." In 1964 he was appointed Director of UCB's Education Abroad Program in Italy, and he and Natalie lived in Padova for 2 years, making Italian friends with whom they are still in contact. From 1970-71 he was appointed Dean of the College of Environmental Design and also served as the Director of the Environmental Design Research in directing various architecutral research efforts. In 1978, he was invited by the University of Hawaii to help to develop the Department of Architecture into the School of Architecture. He became a Fellow of the American Institue of Architects in 1997.

Prof. Lagorio directed his energies to the study of architectural design for earthquakes. He made one of his more unique contributions in the area of earthquake loss estimation methods. He was the first architect to work as a consultant to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the development of analytical methodologies for formulating scenarios for the estimation of potential earthquake losses to cities and regions at risk in the US. Today, so many years later, the state of California still applies the principles of this basic model for projecting possible earthquake losses on a state and regional basis. Because of his efforts in this emerging field of research, he was selected to serve as Chairman of the Project Oversight Committee for a multi-year, multi-million dollar research effort to develop a standardized national earthquake loss estimation methodology through the National Institute of Building Sciences for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He was Advisor/Consultant to the Office of Emergency Services, Executive Office of the President in Washington, DC from 1971-73. He also played an important role in the development of the California "Hospital Facilities Seismic Safey Act."

In 1974 he was the first and for many years the only architect member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute(EERI). In 1984 he was elected to the Board of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and served as Secretary-Treasurer. Today there are hundreds of architects in earthquake hazards design and research, many of whom are presently members of the EERI, a true success of Prof. Lagorio's early efforts at legitimatizing the role of architects in this highly technical research area.

He participated in various international earthquake reconnaissance field studies after major earthquakes, identifying issues of concern to architects in both design and post-disaster activies of recovery and reconstruction. He participated on teams of world renowned engineers after the earthquakes in Tangshan, China, of 1976, Managua, Nicaragua of l982; and Campania-Basilicata, Italy of l984, and received commendations from their governments, thus promoting the legitimay and importance of architectural involvement in providing an earthquake-resistant environment. In 1995, based on his early efforts, he was selected to serve on the first team assembled by the American Institute of Architects and sent to the Mexico City earthquake site.

He was the first architect to serve with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the Research Applied to the National Needs Division, where he initiated various architectural research programs still evidenced today. For this, in 1992 the National Science Foundation awarded him the "Outstanding Performance Award." He was asked to return to the NSF to continue his earlier work in advancing architectural research as a legitimate field of study and practice. During this time he was selected to serve as the Secretary of the Civil Infrastructure Systems Task Group which was responsible for the successful development of a new Civil Infrastructure System Research Program with a FY1994 budget of $45.5 million and $54.5 million in 1995.

Throughout his career, he transferred his research back into architecutral practice through publications of books and articles which served as guides for the then emerging fields of architectural seismic design and planning. He also consistently transferred and extended his work into the education of future architects.

Prof. Lagorio served on the Board of Directors of the American Institue of Architects Research Corporation. In 1997 he became a Fellow of the AIA.

Henry and Natalie had no children, but "Uncle Hank" leaves many cherished nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews. There were many happy hour with "the kids."

A Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 10:30 AM at Holy Spirit/Newman Hall, 2700 Dwight Way (at College Ave), Berkeley.

Donations can be made to the , Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter, 1060 La Avenida Street, Mountain View, CA 94040-2217, or the Leo Croce Scholarship Fund, Livermore Unified School District, 5650 Scenic Avenue, Livermore, CA 94551.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 13, 2013
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