Ben Brungraber, Ph.D., P.E.

Company co-founder and timber frame visionary with more than forty years of experience in the field, including trend-setting research on mortise and tenon joinery.

Ben Brungraber, Ph.D., P.E.Though still awaiting knighthood, Ben already has a Master of Science from Colorado State in Timber Structures and a Ph.D. in Mortise and Tenon Joinery from Stanford, which to his clients’ collective relief, explains the nickname Doctor Joint.

In his early years, Ben worked in the construction industry after acquiring his civil engineering degree from Cornell. His jobs included inspecting the concrete used in the Washington DC subway, and helping American Bridge build steel high-rise structures, long-span bridges and steel mills. Tired of the bureaucracy involved with massive projects, he accepted an offer to teach at Colorado State, where his final project was a panelized and prefabricated timber covered bridge.

Ready to take his show on the road, Ben was hired as lead engineer for a New York firm that designed log homes and manufactured housing. There he became a part of the revival of timber framing in North America, a passion that he took to his next post teaching at Bucknell, then later as a fellowship recipient at Stanford University. During his next three years as a teacher and Ph.D. candidate, he learned the niceties of surveying, design and construction management, and also met his future Fire Tower partner, a star student named Mack Magee.

Ben Brungraber, Ph.D., P.E.With degree and two new sons in tow, Ben headed for the East Coast, where two years of teaching at the University of Connecticut finally got the professor bug out of his system; he dived into the business world as head engineer at Benson Woodworking Co, where he was able to help elevate engineering standards within the fledging timber framing industry. During his twenty years with Benson, Ben oversaw the engineering of more than $100 million in timber frame construction, and served on the Board of Directors for the Timber Frame Guild of North America.

Recognizing the time was ripe to start his own venture, Ben reconnected with his former student and colleague, Mack Magee, and started Fire Tower, which quickly evolved into one of the timber frame industry’s most ambitious and respected design and engineering firms.

The doctor is in.