Firm

MICHAEL S. JOHNSTONE, AIA, specializes in forensic investigation for golf course design and safety and also investigation of building design and construction. 

Over 150 cases and investigations have been completed in 28 states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin) Washington DC, and Canada.

A small team of architects and specialists work closely with Michael Johnstone. Each possesses decades of multidisciplinary expertise along with contributions to forensic studies and legal cases.

We serve plaintiffs and defendants equally through independent and objective analysis. Most of our clients are law firms or insurance companies needing an expert witness for litigation. We also provide consulting services for property owners to analyze their risk and liability.

Areas of expertise include: golf courses, country clubs, driving ranges, clubhouses, and neighboring property; shopping centers & retail stores; restaurants & cafes; parking lots & garages; custom homes; commercial renovations; and movie theaters.

Michael S. Johnstone, AIA

golf course expert witness architect accident investigator

Michael S. Johnstone is a Forensic Architect and Golf Course Architect providing expert witness services throughout the United States and Canada. He has been a licensed architect since 1975 and a golf course architect since 1985, completing over $200 million in construction. As an expert witness, he has investigated over 150 cases coast-to-coast with expertise in golf course design and safety, as well as building design and construction defects. Mr. Johnstone is a licensed architect in North Carolina and California. He also coordinates accident re-construction experts including biomedical, structural, mechanical and traffic engineers.

Curriculum Vitae

2002 to Present: FORENSIC ARCHITECT AND GOLF COURSE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR
Expert witness and forensic investigation for golf course design and safety including serious injury, errant ball shot, golf cart rollover, accidents, slip and fall, premises liability, construction, nets & barriers and property damage. Expertise includes site surveys, reports, construction analysis, cost estimates, exhibits, dispute resolution, depositions and court appearances.

1982 to 2001: MICHAEL S. JOHNSTONE AIA – PRINCIPAL
Private practice in full service building architecture, golf course architecture and forensic services. Expertise in retail stores, shopping centers, commercial structures, restaurants, office interiors, parking lots and structures, golf courses, clubhouses, driving ranges and custom homes. Forensic investigation of commercial and residential construction disputes plus premises liability. Complete architectural design services including safety studies, programming and schematic design, entitlement procurement, construction documents, permitting, contractor selection and construction administration.

1979 to 1982: KAPLAN/McLAUGHLIN/DIAZ – ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER
A 160 person architectural and planning firm in San Francisco. In charge of staff recruitment, professional service and construction contracts, management and planning for major mixed-use development studies in housing, urban mixed-use and adaptive re-use projects throughout the USA.

1976 to 1979: MEYER/JOHNSTONE ASSOCIATES – PRESIDENT
Owned and managed an Architecture and Commercial Interior Design firm in Oakland, California, concentrating on office and medical interiors, retail stores and cafes; complete design and construction administration services.

1974 to 1976: SAN FRANCISCO DEPARTMENT OF CITY PLANNING – PLANNER
Planner in charge of historic review of seismic renovation projects and creation of the 100 most significant historic buildings list; assisted in drafting the new residential zoning ordinance and various codes and review ordinances for the City.

1972 to 1974: UNITED PROFESSIONAL CONSTRUCTORS – ARCHITECT
Architect for a design/build organization in Denver, Colorado; responsible for programming, design, construction documents and field supervision for federally funded low-income and elderly multi-family housing, youth activity center and outdoor recreation facilities.

Education

2005 to Present:
National Academy of Forensic Engineers, continuing education in forensic investigations and reporting.
American Institute of Architects, continuing education seminars.
Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association, Continuing education in course safety, turf and water management.

2004
A-B Technical College, Lead Based Paint Mitigation Certificate.

1996
Architects Abroad Program, Educational tour of Milan, Florence, Venice and Rome.

1994
University of California Berkeley Seismic Seminar, National symposium on preparation for a catastrophic seismic event.

1985
Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Golf Course Design.

1972
University of Cincinnati, Bachelor of Science in Architecture.

1970
International Institute of Design, Bartlett School of Architecture, London. Urban design for international grad students.

1966
Freies Institute, Bern, Switzerland. High school foreign exchange student with American Field Service. (French and German)

Associations

  • Registered Architect, North Carolina and California
  • National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
  • The American Institute of Architects
  • United States Golf Association
  • Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
  • National Academy of Forensic Engineers, Affiliate
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium, Charter Member
  • North Carolina Arboretum
  • American Cancer Society
  • White Oak Martial Arts

Golf Course Architecture Highlights

BYRON HOT SPRINGS – SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
18-hole Championship Course at the Byron Hot Springs Resort, including restoration of historic hotel and a complete spa and retreat featuring natural mineral hot springs in the area. (Project not constructed.)

CYPRESS GOLF COURSE & DRIVING RANGE – SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO
9-hole executive course situated on a mountainside with view of the Pacific Ocean. Incorporated over 300,000 cubic yards of dirt from the nearby BART expansion to SFO.

THE BOULDERS DRIVING RANGE & LEARNING CENTER – SAN LEANDRO, CA
Conversion of an abandoned rock quarry into a driving range with 25 tee stations and short game practice area, featuring an early version of new synthetic turf products.

MIRA VISTA GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB – BERKELEY, CA
Complete new master plan in association with Fred Bliss Golf Course Architect for course restoration and improvement. Includes tree management plan, new tees and greens, plus adding trees and sand bunkers strategically

SHADOW MOUNTAIN GOLF COURSE – SANTA ROSA, CA
Redesign of one hole to prevent golf balls from bombarding a home, re-orientation of the tee, new mowing patterns, fencing, shrubbery and a target pole at 150 yards.

BURLINGAME DRIVING RANGE & LEARNING CENTER – BURLINGAME, CA www.burlingamegolfcenter.com
Complete new range and short game learning center with new clubhouse/restaurant. Reclamation of landfill site next door to the San Francisco International Airport. 10-acre range was capped with two-foot layer of clay to seal the landfill and artificial turf was installed to avoid watering the range and flushing contaminants.

SEQUOYAH COUNTRY CLUB – OAKLAND, CA
Renovation of an existing historical course including several new tees, reconstruction and remodeling of greens, rerouting drainage and cart paths in conjunction with a tree management plan.

TWENTY INDIVIDUAL GOLF HOLES NATIONWIDE
Safety analysis for cart paths, golf net designs and errant golf ball issues threatening people or property; design recommendations, cost estimates and planning for mitigation of these problems.

PACIFICA EXECUTIVE COURSE – PACIFICA, CA
9-hole scenic Pacific coast golf course near San Francisco with a restaurant and clubhouse. (Not constructed)

TILDEN PARK GOLF COURSE – BERKELEY, CA
Venerable old course in the East Bay Hills included realignment of cart paths and bridge replacements to improve cart circulation and safety; redesign of tees and greens.

Golf Accident Investigation

  • 150+ cases completed throughout the United States.
  • Design & safety analysis, reports, site surveys, exhibits, depositions and court testimony.
  • Country clubs, golf resorts, public golf courses, clubhouses, practice ranges, parking lots, neighboring property.
  • Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin, plus Washington DC and Canada.

Publications

  • Forensic Architect’s Investigation of Golf Course Safety, National Academy of Forensic Engineers, 2009.
  • Forensic Engineering Analysis of Golf Course, Golf Cart, Golf Club and Golf Ball Incidents, co-author with Laura Liptai, Ph.D., National Academy of Forensic Engineers, 2010.

Building Architecture Highlights

MACY’S DEPARTMENT STORES
Over one million square feet of retail interior design and construction throughout California.

THE SHARPER IMAGE
Several locations across the United States for the popular electronic and technology store.

REGAL CINEMA – DUBLIN, CA
Architect of record for 21-cinema complex with IMAX theater. Construction management of other locations in CA and WA.

WORLD MARKET (formerly COST PLUS)
More than eight locations across CA for this international grocery, home and furniture store.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Major remodel and reconfiguration of a multi-level parking structure.

500+ PARKING LOTS & PARKING STRUCTURES
Parking solutions associated with shopping centers, golf courses, institutions, restaurants and gas station/markets.

100+ FINE CUSTOM HOMES
Private residences in Colorado, California and North Carolina and Georgia with a specialty in steep slope sites.

60+ RESTAURANTS & CAFES
Complete architectural design services for food and dining establishments. A broad range of sites and proejcts includes a coffee kiosk to free standing 160-seat restaurant. Companies include Seattle’s Best Coffee, Torrefazione Cafe, Milano’s, The Fishery, Emeryville Comedy Club Bar & Restaurant, Nordstrom’s Cafe, Courtyard Cafe, etc.

2,000+ MULTI-FAMILY APARTMENT RENOVATIONS
In Cincinnati and Denver, under a Federal Housing Act mandate to improve and rejuvenate low income neighborhoods.

SILICON VALLEY FLEX SPACE COMPLEXES
Evolving-use buildings to house administration, assembly and manufacturing of computer hardware in various markets.

250+ INDIVIDUAL CUSTOM RETAIL STORES
Complete design of new retail concepts from name and logo to final build out. Includes neighborhood shopping districts, shopping centers and regional malls. Companies include Lucy’s, Bing’s Golf, Natural Wonders, Express Photo, ALLEZ, Milan’s Jewelers, J. Alexander, ComputerLand and ComputerWare.

Ames Kanemoto

Ames Kanemoto is a firm Partner based in Napa, California. He serves as Communications Director and lead investigator specializing in legal editing, research and forensic design. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Legal Studies and has 30 years experience in writing, design and publishing. As an investigator, his documentation distills complex analyses of design, legal issues and research into simple yet comprehensive form.

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Ames Kanemoto conducts golf course accident investigations under direction of Michael S. Johnstone AIA. He performs inspections across the country that have included notable venues like Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin, and Baywood Greens in Delaware. Since 2012, Ames has raised the bar for our communication with law firms by focusing expert witness reports on critical legal issues and producing key demonstrative evidence. Prior to joining the firm, Ames operated his own design and consulting firm in Berkeley for 20 years, providing editing, design and photography to architects, builders, engineers, biomedical companies, technology firms, healthcare providers, educators, publishers and government agencies. He first collaborated with Michael Johnstone in the 1990s, designing branding for the firm and its commercial clients and producing our publications, marketing and website.

Team

Elliot Kamerman

Consulting Engineer
North Carolina & Florida

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Elliot Kamerman
Consulting Engineer

Elliot Kamerman is a licensed engineer in Florida and North Carolina.

Ken Zinns

Consulting Architect
Oakland, California

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Ken Zinns
Consulting Architect

Ken Zinns is a licensed architect with a Master’s in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. He has 20 years of experience in residential and commercial design, planning and construction. He has collaborated with Michael Johnstone on several architectural projects and has conducted forensic investigations in architecture as well as golf course design.

David Lynch

Graphic Designer
Asheville, North Carolina

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David Lynch
Graphic Designer

David Lynch is a graphic designer and has collaborated with Michael Johnstone for more than a decade. He graduated from California State University Northridge and has 30 years of design experience.