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Pankow Legacy

Charles Pankow (1923-2004) graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1947, and 36 years later he was honored by Purdue with an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering. His college education was interrupted by military service during WWII. As a U.S. Navy ensign, he was stationed in Japan until 1946.

After 15 years in the design and build industry, “Charlie,” as he was known to his family, friends and colleagues, formed his own construction company in 1963. For more than 40 years, he was a pioneer in concrete-forming technology and a champion of the design-build method for faster and more efficient construction of buildings (Pankow Builders once completed a 40-story condominium in seven months).

During his distinguished career, Charlie invented processes for manufacturing hollow concrete piles using a slip-form technique and slip-forming vertical air conditioning ducts; he created innovative systems for increasing project automation, including total onsite precasting of structural and architectural elements; and he is perhaps best-known for his leadership in the development of moment-frame technology that has advanced the science of earthquake resistant construction.

Charlie was a leading member of more than a dozen national associations and academies, including the American Concrete Institute (ACI), American Arbitration Association, Structural Engineers Association of Southern California, and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), among others. In 1980 Charlie served as president of the American Concrete Institute (whose Southern California Chapter he had helped form in 1957–the first local ACI chapter in the U.S.). He was elected into the National Academy of Engineering in 1997. He was a noted speaker at numerous state and national conventions, and he authored several chapters in the Concrete Construction Handbook by Joseph Waddell.

Charlie was especially honored in 1999 to be recognized by Engineering News-Record as one of the Top Six World Builders during ENR’s 125-year history. His career was also replete with other awards and peer recognition for his many contributions, such as Design-Build Institute of America’s Brunelleschi Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 2003; ASCE’s 2002 OPAL Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Construction; Purdue University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award; ACI’s Henry C. Turner Medal Award in 1990; Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Industry Achievement Award in 1993; and many others.

Charlie was well known as a connoisseur of the arts, having established a considerable collection of ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Russian artifacts. He amassed one of the largest private collections of Russian and Greek icons in the United States. Charlie also contributed generously to numerous educational institutions and charitable organizations over the years, most notably Purdue University.

“Pankow invented processes for manufacturing hollow concrete piles using a slip-form technique and slip-forming vertical air contitioning ducts . . .”

Beyond Building:
The Charles J. Pankow Legacy

A Better Way to Build:
A History of the Pankow Companies


The Charles Pankow Oral History Project at Purdue University

Charles Pankow Award for innovation

The Charles Pankow Award for Innovation recognizes the contributions of organizations working collaboratively to advance the design and construction industry by introducing innovation into practice.


Wall of Wind Resilience and Innovation Facility

  • Wall of Wind Resilience and Innovation Facility
  • State of Florida
  • National Science Foundation
  • Permastellisa Group
  • Florida Sea Grant FM Global
  • Applied Insurance Research (AIR) Worldwide
  • RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd.

Targeted Hits for Modal Parameter Estimation and Rating (THMPER)

  • Rutgers University
  • Drexel University
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Pennoni Associates Inc.
  • Intelligent Infrastructure Systems

Seismic Design Methodology for Precast Concrete Diaphragms

  • Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute
  • University of Arizona
  • Lehigh University
  • University of California San Diego
  • S. K. Ghosh Associates, Inc.

Thermal Integrity Profiler

  • University of South Florida
  • Pile Dynamics, Inc.
  • Foundation & Geotechnical Engineering LLC
  • Florida State Department of Transportation
  • Washington State Department of Transportation

RABITTM Bridge Deck Assessment Tool

  • Rutgers University, Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
  • FHWA, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
  • Geomedia Research and Development
  • Ingegneria Dei Sistemi

Hybrid-Composite Beam (HCB®)

  • HC Bridge Company, LLC
  • Transportation Research Board – IDEA Program
  • The University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Transportation Technology Center, Inc.

New Sustainable Concrete Mix Design

  • American Engineering Testing, Inc.
  • Cemstone Products Company


  • Advanced Structures and Composites Center of the University of Maine
  • Maine DOT
  • Advanced Infrastructure Technologies, LLC

Eco Sound Barrier



Claremont Tunnel Seismic Upgrade

East Bay Municipal Utility District


Lightweight Modular Composite Firewall System

  • Composite Support & Solutions, Inc.
  • Southern California Edison
  • San Diego State University
  • University of Southern California

Cable-Stayed Bridge Cradle System

  • FIGG Engineering Group in collaboration with:
  • Ohio Department of Transportation
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Maine Department of Transportation
  • CTL Group
  • DSI America
  • University of Toledo, Department of Civil Engineering
  • Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel, The University of Western Ontario
  • Lawrence Technological Institute
  • University of Maine, Civil Engineering Department

The Shawnessy Light Rail Transit Station Thin-Shell Pre-Cast Platform Canopy System of Ductal® Fiber-Reinforced Concrete

  • Lafarge North America, Inc.
  • City of Calgary
  • University of Calgary
  • Stantex Architecture Ltd.
  • Speco Engineering
  • Strudes Inc.

Coupled Truss Walls with Damped Link Elements

  • WSP Cantor Seinuk
  • Enrique Martinez Romero
  • S.A., Taylor Devices, Inc.
  • State University of New York at Buffalo

Steel Plate/Composite Concrete Shear Wall System

  • Magnusson Klemencic Associates
  • NBBJ Design; et al.

Tunnel Jacking Design for the Boston Central Artery Project

  • Hatch Mott MacDonald
  • Mott MacDonald; et al.

MMFX Microcomposite Steel Rebar

  • MMFX Technologies Corporation
  • Federal Highway Administration; et al.

Economical Rehabilitation of a SteelTruss Bridge Using an FRP Deck

  • New York State Department of Transportation
  • Hardcore Composites; et al.

Composite Transmission Tower and Construction Technology

  • Ebert Composites Corporation
  • W. Brandt Goldsworthy & Associates

Ice Ban™ Deicing Products

  • Ice Ban America, Inc.
  • Archer Daniels Midland; et al.
  • Smart-Leg Shockless Load Transfer System
  • ETPM International, the European Commission; et al.
  • Knapp Street Laboratory and Environmental Information Center
  • Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.
  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection Engineering

Simplified Monitoring System for Civil Structures

  • Strain Monitoring Systems; et al.
  • Eclipse™ Shrinkage Reducing Admixture
  • Grace Construction Products
  • ARCO Chemical Company
  • High Performance Steels for Highway Bridge Applications
  • American Iron & Steel Institute
  • Federal Highway Administration; et al.

Development and Application of Aramid Tendons

  • Sumitomo Construction Co., Ltd.
  • Japan Highway Corporation; et al.
  • The FIRP™ Glulams
  • Oregon State University
  • Wood Science & Technology Institute
  • Carbon Shell Space Truss Bridge
  • University of California, San Diego, Division of Structural Engineering
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