Dennis D. Nottingham, co-founder of PND Engineers Inc., one of Alaska’s most influential engineers who created the Open Cell Sheet Pile waste isolation bulkhead system for contaminated soils, has died. He was 84.
“When I came up here [to Alaska], I had no concept of the opportunities that were ahead. I came because I liked the outdoors,” he said when reflecting on his legacy.
Nottingham, P.E., L.S., M.ASCE, leaves a legacy extending well beyond the 49th state. Known as “The Bridge Builder” in the Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame, he won the NOVA Award in 1998 for PND’s Open Cell Sheet Pile bulkhead technology. It is known for providing significant, revolutionary construction benefits that enhance quality and lower costs. PND has designed more than 200 OCSP systems valued at over half a billion dollars since Nottingham pioneered the technology in the early 1980s, with installations across the United States and internationally, from Bermuda to Canada, Guyana to Russia.
He was a life member of ASCE. He and his friend as well as PND co-founder, Roy Peratrovich Jr., P.E., built an impressive number of bridges – both practical, beautiful, and big. “The Yukon. The Gulkana. I worked on every single bridge – construction bridges, access bridges – on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in one form or another,” said Nottingham at the multidiscipline engineering firm’s 40th anniversary in 2019.
Nottingham received a civil engineering degree from Montana State College in 1959, and a master’s in 1960. He moved to Juneau, Alaska, in 1962, where he worked for the bridge design section of the state’s highway department. He is credited with more than 300 bridge designs, including Hurricane Gulch Bridge, the Knik-Matanuska River Bridges, and Sitka Harbor Bridge, a 1,255-foot-long bridge over the Sitka Channel connecting Sitka with Baranof Island, widely considered to be the first cable-stayed vehicular crossing in the United States.
Nottingham chose early on to follow in the path of many of his carpenter ancestors, and having that woodworking background made him extremely successful at his later endeavors. His large variety of projects spanned the building and inspection of wooden bridges, design of metal boats, and professionally diving for the Alaska State Troopers. For his 50 years of professional experience, he received the Hard Hat Award from the Association of General Contractors.
He became a registered professional engineer in Alaska in 1963 and in Washington in 1979, when he and Peratrovich founded the firm that would soon be called PND Inc. In 1972 he also became a registered land surveyor.
In his free time, Nottingham enjoyed hunting, fishing, and geology. He had a reputation for strong opinions and a sharp intellect. He served as PND’s president for 30 years before retiring in 2009.