Sacramento Municipal Utility District Headquarters Seismic Retrofit and Expansion

Sacramento, CA

The SMUD Headquarters building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, underwent a complete refurbishment including an expansion and seismic retrofit. Built in 1961, the building was stripped to its bare steel structure, removing hazardous materials and upgrading all interior elements and distribution systems. A new central core was added to enhance the connection between the building’s south and north wings and includes an open stairway to allow for openness and ease of connection between floors. The seismic retrofit included viscous damping systems which reduce the structural demands on the existing structure, limiting the extent of other expensive structural deficiency mitigation and preserving the historic fabric of the building.

Quick Facts

  • Size: 146,000 SF
  • Architect: Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture
  • The original design in 1958 was also by Dreyfuss + Blackford, and was the largest building in Sacramento east of downtown at the time. The structure's Modernist style was influenced by the work of Mies van der Rohe.
  • Construction Cost: $75,000,000
  • Contractor: Roebbelen
  • Wayne Thiebaud’s internationally recognized mosaic tile mural “Water City” at the first level of the structure is a tribute to the Sacramento and American Rivers and has been fully preserved


  • 2020 SEAOCC Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards - Award of Excellence (Retrofit/Alterations)
  • 2020 SEAOCC Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards - Retrofit/Alterations
  • 2020 California Preservation Foundation - Trustees’ Award of Excellence
  • 2020 California Preservation Foundation - Preservation Design Award 

Photo credits: Bruce Damonte Photography and Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture