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Datum, an award-winning Texas-based engineering practice with offices in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, is celebrating its 80th anniversary. The firm serves a national client base, with completed projects from Seattle to Miami, as well as Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe.

Founder, Frank W. Chappell P.E., graduated from Vanderbilt in 1905 and found his way to Dallas to help manage the construction of the Texas Fair Park in Dallas. After completion of the fair, he founded his own structural consulting firm in 1937. He was an architect’s engineer, designing projects like the Cotton Bowl, the first 27-story high-end apartments, and Temple Emanuel in Dallas that has a 4-inch-thick concrete dome spanning 160 feet. Thomas Taylor P.E., principal design engineer, came to work for Mr. Chappell as his first and only job in 1959. Due to Mr. Chappell’s failing health, Mr. Chappell and Thomas Taylor became partners in 1963 as Chappell and Taylor Consulting Engineers. After Mr. Chappell’s death in 1968, Thomas changed the name of the firm to Datum Engineers to be more inclusive of the other engineers on staff.

Mr. Taylor is still a strong leader of the firm. He continued Mr. Chappell’s design philosophy serving architects, and the architectural community has recognized him with an Honorary Membership of the Dallas Chapter of the AIA and the Texas Society of Architects. Additionally, the University of Texas elected him to the Academy of Distinguished Engineers of the Civil, Environmental, Architectural Engineering Department. He pioneered many structural systems, including the precast concrete-stack wall system for parking garages in 1974, the tallest slipform core for high-rise buildings at the time in 1988 at 710 feet, and an insulated load-bearing masonry cavity wall. He pioneered tilt-wall construction for high-design architectural buildings 20 years ago with the Saint Ignatius Chapel at the University of Seattle with Steven Holl Architect.

The firm continues to bring the philosophy of Frank Chappell P.E. to the architectural community with a six-person board, 21 stockholders, and new principals being promoted while this is being written. Datum now has an office in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio focused solely on structural engineering and mostly for architects on high-end medical, institutions, higher education, and museums. Datum was recently recognized with a Tilt-Up Achievement Award from the Tilt-Up Concrete Association for The DoSeum ¬– San Antonio’s Museum for Kids. Datum has been awarded over 70 National Engineering awards, including four awards from the Tilt-Up Concrete Association.

As the firm celebrates their 80th anniversary this year, it is exciting to realize the continuity of the firm with ties back to Mr. Chappell through Thomas Taylor, and the tie between Thomas Taylor and the new partners. So, Mr. Chappell’s philosophy continues as always for 80 years.

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