History of SEA

The History of Structural Engineering Associates

In 1909, when Hans Von Unwerth opened his engineering office in Kansas City, it was a time of change for engineering. Modern techniques and structural innovations were changing the skylines of our cities. Buildings were growing and so was Kansas City. The local population would top a quarter million by 1910.

In our growing city, Mr. Von Unwerth worked diligently to develop a reputation for excellence and service. Over time, the reputation was enhanced by our work on some of the most recognizable landmarks in the area. From Hotel Muehlebach in 1915 to City Hall in 1937 and the city’s first modern skyscraper in 1965, we helped build Kansas City.

Today, Structural Engineering Associates, Inc. is the oldest continuously operating structural engineering firm in Kansas City.


Hans Von Unwerth opens The Office of Hans Von Unwerth, Consulting Engineer.


After Mr. Von Unwerth passes away, the company continues as the Office of Erwin Pfuhl, Structural Engineer.


Mr. Pfuhl forms a partnership with H.K. Shideler. Pfuhl & Shideler operates until Mr. Shideler retires in 1956.


A partnership is formed with E.K. Stevson and the company begins operating under the name Pfuhl & Stevson. Mr. Pfuhl retires in 1959.


Mr. Stevson teams with Rex E. Hall and Robert G. Wade to form a corporation under the name Stevson, Hall & Wade, Inc. Mr. Stevson retires in 1977, and Kermit D. Bright assumes a leadership role within the company in 1978.


On Jan. 15, the company adopts the name Structural Engineering Associates. The new name symbolizes the stability and continuity that characterizes the company’s past and signifies our commitment to the future. Mr. Hall retires in 1983 and Mr. Wade retires in 1998.


Kermit Bright retires from Structural Engineering Associates and the firm’s leadership is turned over to Kelley Gipple, Ralph Jones, and Krishna Saha.


SEA is proud of its contributions to Kansas City. From a cutting-edge roof support system in the 1930s to today’s cathodic protection procedures for parking facilities, SEA strives to remain abreast of the latest techniques to provide functional, yet economical structural solutions.

This company was built with determination and commitment to excellence, and today’s staff continues to employ the values set forth by our founder and predecessors. Client satisfaction lies at the heart of SEA’s success and will continue to play a substantial role in our operation.

We have developed successful long-term relationships with archtiects throughout the city and are currently involved in many high-profile projects that will once again change the Kansas City skyline.