Svend H. Nielsen

Svend H. Nielsen

Svend H. Nielsen was born on August 1, 1919 in Kalundborg, Denmark and passed away early Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Balboa, California, at the age of 93. Svend received a Master of Science in Civil and Structural Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark in 1942. In Denmark he met and married Jytte Lis Hansen. In late 1946 they immigrated to Seattle, Washington. In 1948, they started to tour the United States planning to start with “six months” in Southern California.  Sixty-four years later they still were in Southern California living in Pomona, Riverside and finally in Newport Beach on the Balboa peninsula..
Svend had a very successful career as a Civil and Structural Engineer. In Los Angeles he joined Kistner Wright and Wright where he soon was in charge of the Engineering Department.  Then in the mid 1950's Svend joined up with Carl Johnson and formed the firm Johnson & Nielsen Associates also known as J&N; or JNA. Over the years, Svend was involved with many notable projects, both commercial and public, a sampling of  which range from the elegant Danish Lutheran Church which is hosting the memorial service;  The Forum in Los Angeles, which was one of the first structures that proved that a large arena could be built without extensive internal support pillars; the  Black Cube at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California, which “stands on its corner”; and the Crousalis Arena at California State University San Bernardino with it’s “spider like exterior  space frame” supporting the skin and roof of the structure also without internal columns. 

Svend was also active in the Code aspects of structural engineering as one of the founding members of the California State University Seismic Review Board, which generated the guidelines that later came to be Chapter 34, Existing Structures of the California Building Code
Born in a Danish sea port, he loved the sea and was a longtime member of Newport Harbor Yacht Club, A truly gregarious and friendly individual.  Svend was liked and respected by everyone he came in contact with and never expressed a negative comment  about others or lost his temper.   In the words of his long time partner Carl Johnson,  “I can honestly say that in over sixty years as my partner, Svend and I never had an argument.  That was the way he was”

Svend was preceded by his wife Jytte Liz Nielsen and daughter Nina Nielsen Smith, and is survived by his daughter Pia Nielsen Wagner and son Jack Nielsen along with six grandchildren, Paul Thomsen, Tanya Nielsen, Christina Nielsen, Jennifer Nielsen, Katherine Nielsen, and Carolyn Nielsen Smith,  and one great grand child, Odin Thorup Thomsen.  His brother, Otto, and sister, Else, both still live in Denmark. May his memory live on forever among all who knew and loved him.

In lieu of flowers it is suggested that donations to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at be made.   A public memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm on June 15th at the Danish Lutheran Church at 16881 Bastanchury Road, Yorba Linda, CA  92886.  Burial will be private.  Danish coffee and pastries will be served after completion of the service.  If attending the memorial service, please RSVP the number attending in an email to

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