Posts tagged with "Earthquakes":

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Seattle boosts building codes for high-rises after study deems them at risk

Seattle is updating building codes for new skyscrapers after a shocking study revealed that the power and nature of earthquakes in the region pose a significant threat to its tall buildings, one that is worse than experts could have imagined.

The Seattle Times recently reported on results from the M9 Project, a four-year study that aimed to estimate the effects of a magnitude 9 Cascadia earthquake, revealed that the vast, sediment-filled basin under Seattle can magnify the type of ground shaking that puts high-rises at risk of collapse by a factor of two to five, which can trigger stronger surface effects than earthquakes in nearby California.

When rattled by an earthquake, the Times explained, the region's glacial-packed soils, which can extend more than four miles underground, violently shake and convulse, trapping massive seismic waves within the basin that underlies most of the city. Intense shaking like this could last for two minutes, which is four times longer than the average quake. While shorter buildings under 10 stories can withstand the earth's back-and-forth motion, tall buildings tend to whip back and forth under those conditions until they are on the verge of collapse.

As the Times reported, as a result of these findings, Seattle and its neighbor, Bellevue, plan on revising seismic construction standards for new buildings over 240 feet, or over 20 stories tall. These standards will require high-rises to be stronger and more sturdy than their predecessors, without the additional cost.

The plan to revise building codes has also raised concerns regarding Seattle’s older high-rises, many of which were constructed between the 1960s and 1990s, prior to when the dangers of earthquakes were fully understood. Older high-rises have a greater risk of major damage and collapse due to their fracture-prone welded joints, which are supposed to secure the steel frame, as well as their poorly-reinforced concrete supports. Seattle’s renowned Rainer Tower, for example, with its golf-tee-shaped base, was built in the 1970s and undoubtedly has fracture-prone welds. According to the study, buildings like that are up to five times more likely to collapse during an intense earthquake than a modern building.

In Seattle, where the seismic threat to skyscrapers is higher than in California because of the city's sedimentary basin, there have still been no attempts to research and pinpoint dangerous high-rises. While the city is taking steps forward by enhancing construction standards, retrofitting old concrete and steel high-rises may be the next necessary step. This may prove costly, but taking time to fix the underlying structure of older buildings could prevent serious levels of damage that can be catastrophic to the community.
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A Mexican pavilion offers space for post-earthquake renewal and reflection

How do you rebuild after a natural disaster? This question was the call to action at the fifth edition of the MEXTRÓPOLI Festival of Architecture and City that took place March 17 to 20. The four-day city-wide event was presented as an active reflection to rebuild since last September’s major earthquake that struck central Mexico. Coincidently marking the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the natural disaster in September last year hit hard on the same day three decades prior–at least 40 buildings collapsed, wreaking havoc in the Mexican states of Puebla, Morelos, and in the Greater Mexico City area. At MEXTRÓPOLI, temporary built environments activated Mexico City’s public spaces to promote reflection of those events and fuel sustainable future building. Twenty pavilions designed by institutions such as UNAM, Ibero Puebla, Anahuac University, Querétaro, Sci-Arc, and Maristas took up at Alameda Central, the oldest public park in the Americas located downtown, adjacent to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The goal? To inspire sustainable and preventative practices, and to demonstrate potential sustainable architectural futures.
Architect Elias Kababie, Taller Paralelo Arquitectura, Michigan Architecture, and students from Colectivo Seis collaborated to design Pabellón ( ), a brick pavilion, with financial support from Masonite. The ephemeral structure is described by Kababie as a built testament to what local people felt in the aftermath of the quakes. “It creates an experience based on what we felt when everything was demolished,” explains Kababie. The structure itself was the very first built project for Colectivo Seis, who are only in their second year of college. As the story goes, on the first night of building the pavilion, the students and Kababie assembled the bricks made by a local factory and craftsman. The bricks themselves are made from locally-sourced clay, baked, and dried. Initially, they tried laying each brick one by one. Eventually, they made a rig that allowed them to stack eight bricks at a time. What took six hours to build on the first day took only one hour on the second. The trace of their handiwork lingers, with the red ochre-hued dust marking anyone who enters the pavilion. From the outside, the pavilion looks fortress-like, a cubic construction of six tiers of stacked brick on all four sides. Visitors were invited in by Kababie and the students through the periwinkle Masonite door into a narrow, tubular passageway. Once inside, onlookers are pleasantly surprised to find an undulating series of brick laid out to form the negative space of a circular sphere, or, if you will, an inverted oculus. The stacked formation encourages sitting and climbing, as well as spectacular views of the heart of Mexico City. Aptly dubbed, Pabellón ( ) is formally a parenthesis. Conceptually, it is a theoretical interpretation of the meaning of “collapse,” what students from Colectivo Seis described as the continuum of material and emotional rubble that was left behind after the quake. These experiences are collectively housed between the empty parentheses, the material manifestation of the symbolic namesake, the pavilion. “It’s a metaphor for the current situation. When you have this perfect brick wall that when you walk outside, you don't realize that there’s a greater structure, an emptiness that came about through the earthquakes. It’s still there and it hasn’t been fixed. We wanted this to be a point to talk about those aspects of our lives and that is still going on and many of us don’t realize it,” explained Alonso Varela of Collectivo Seis. This collective experience is not only expressed in concept, but also in practice. Kababie proudly reflects on their experience as completely collaborative, a project completed by a group from beginning to end as a group. “Having that extraordinary shared journey, the idea of idea of changing the conversation through bricks, through a situation, with a door that you go through, in a specific place as a specific project—it was an amazing idea.” You can find more videos of Mextropoli, Pabellón ( ), interviews, and other footage of the festival as a story highlight on AN's Instagram story highlights. 
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Renzo Piano to lead reconstruction efforts after Italian earthquake

Although rescue teams are still in the process of recovering the injured and deceased from the rubble, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has announced that acclaimed Italian architect Renzo Piano will lead the country’s recovery from a disastrous 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, and Pescara del Tronto on August 24th. Piano, who was appointed an Italian senator for life in 2013, has deep experience working with UNESCO and in earthquake zones from Japan to California. He will be joined in his task by local governor Vasco Errani of Emilia Romagna, who has been appointed as a special commissioner to oversee post-quake reconstruction. Errani headed a similar reconstruction effort after a series of earthquakes rocked his region in 2012, leaving 27 dead as well as thousands without homes. Piano’s reconstruction plan features a three-pronged approach. First, over the next six months 2,900 displaced residents—currently occupying 58 tent encampments—will move to semi-permanent, lightweight wooden shelters. Second, Piano projects taking six to eight months to rebuild the affected areas. The third prong of Piano’s plan involves bolstering seismic regulations across the country, with the goal of making existing structures like homes, public buildings, and cultural sites more earthquake resistant. Piano spoke with The Guardian, underlining the urgency of the developing situation, saying, “We have to act quickly, with the utmost urgency. Anti-seismic requirements must be inserted in the laws of the country to make our homes safe, just as it’s compulsory for a car to have brakes that work.” As has been true in previous, large-scale earthquake events, unreinforced and masonry structures are often to blame for a large percentage of overall deaths. Italy, with its large stock of old and ancient brick structures, as well as a thriving informal construction culture, is especially susceptible to seismic events. The improvement of seismic regulations is an intergenerational project Piano envisions taking place over the next 50 years. Piano went on to tell The Guardian, “We are speaking about the ridge of the Apennines, the backbone of Italy from north to south, an operation projected over 50 years and two generations,” he said. “We are talking about millions of buildings, it is not impossible if you work through generations.”
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This three-sided concrete skyscraper can withstand earthquakes and stand for 2,500 years

In 1985 Mexico City suffered a devastating earthquake. Occurring in the early morning on September 19, the quake took the lives of more than 5,000 people. The earthquake's vibrations of the lakebed sediments beneath the city also destabilized its skyscrapers. Such was the devastation that one nine-story tower collapsed, its piles ripped from the ground. New building codes were implemented after the disaster and now Mexican architecture practice L. Benjamin Romano Arquitectos (LBRA), working alongside working alongside engineering firm Arup’s New York office, has produced an earthquake-resistant skyscraper designed to last 2,500 years.

Rising to 57-stories, Arup conceived pre-tensioned double-V hangers to brace the facade. According to a press release, in practice the skyscraper—named Torre Reforma (Tower Reform)—has an "inherent tendency to twist when subjected to lateral loads and wind" and "earthquake forces." While creating a signature aesthetic for the building, the hangers also provide visual reassurance of the its structural qualities.

Materiality was a key component of the design process for the tower. Arup said that the finish of the concrete was "critical"; the firm evaluated numerous design mixes. Their final choice resulted in a smooth surface, free from honeycombing or other flaws. Poured in increments of 27 inches, the finish highlights the color variations that are commonplace in similar types of pours.

In addition to its tectonics, the building's circulatory aspects were another area of focus. With a triangular floor-plan, LBRA strayed away from using the central core that's norm in skyscrapers. At Torre Reforma, the elevators and egress stairways are contained in the apex of the triangle. Long-span pyramidal floor trusses facilitate concealing the building's services. These trusses also enable dramatic column-free interiors and sweeping views of the city and the nearby Chapultepec Park.

Additionally, Torre Reforma is a pre-certified as a LEED Platinum Core and Shell project, as it makes use of various water conservation systems and a combination of automated and passive ventilation systems to moderate temperature.

"Arup has been indispensable in helping to transform my architectural vision into an efficient and buildable structure," said Benjamin Romano, Principal of LBRA, in a press release. "They have provided innovative solutions to the complex seismic issues in Mexico City and have been instrumental in helping the bidding contractors understand that Torre Reforma is not more complex than standard vertical construction; it just applies traditional construction methods, that contractors are already familiar with, in a new and different way."

Tabitha Tavolaro, Associate Principal at Arup and project manager for Torre Reforma, added, “Building tall structures in Mexico City often means working in constrained conditions. Challenges can include small or irregular sites, coordinating diverse teams, and, of course, seismic hazards. In this project, we partnered with LBRA to create robust solutions that bring value to the client as well as the community.”

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Seismic hot spots and facade design: Experts explain the risks and rewards

Southern California's enviable climate and landscape—sunny skies, balmy temperatures, picturesque mountains, and surfer-friendly beaches—come at a geological cost: proximity to active earthquake faults. Local AEC industry professionals are adept at meeting detailed building code requirements for structural safety. But when it comes to cutting-edge facade systems, said KPFF principals Mark Hershberg and Nathan Ingraffea, designers and builders are left with little to go on. Hershberg and Ingraffea will dig into this and other challenges and opportunities associated with seismic design at this month's Facades+ LA conference in a panel on "Anchors & Approvals: Structure and Skin in Seismic Design." In addition to Ingraffea (Hershberg will moderate), panelists include Dana Nelson (Smith-Emery) and Diana Navarro (California OSHPD). "A tremendous amount of time has been spent to increase the safety of building structures in seismic events through continual updates of the code, but very little work has been done to understand the behavior of facade systems in seismic events," noted Ingraffea. "This is a shame since the value of the facade system could be just as high as the value of the structure itself, and failure of either one could be catastrophic. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to invest the time to modernize the code." In the meantime, designers, engineers, fabricators, and builders are left without "a well thought out design standard for seismic design of facade systems," said Ingraffea. The ASCE 7 contains only half a page on the topic. Worse still, the relevant text is "on one hand, very basic (one equation to check) and on the other hand overly onerous (dynamic racking tests), and they really do not apply to many modern facade systems," he said. As a result, building envelope design teams must tackle the issue of seismic design on a case-by case basis. "'Industry standard' is a term you hear a lot when you do a lot of facade engineering but from what I've seen the [seismic design] 'standard' is all over the board,'" said Ingraffea. In practical terms, a lack of data or guidance on seismic activity and building skins can cost precious time and money. "Most of the challenges we see with facade design in seismic hot spots are due to the amount of movement that can occur in a building system during a seismic event," explained Hershberg. "We service many clients who want to use new facade concepts or products that may have been developed overseas, and many times the products haven't been tested to determine the range of seismic movement that they can accommodate." The design team is thus forced to perform a series of qualification tests. "This introduces an additional set of schedule risks that are sometimes overlooked," said Hershberg. Learn more about the ins and outs of seismic design at Facades+ LA. Check out a full conference agenda and register for lab or dialog workshops today on the conference website.
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30 Years in the making, land artist Alberto Burri’s Grande Cretto in Sicily finally complete

Memorializing the quiet town of Gibellina that was destroyed by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in 1968, Alberto Burri's Grande Cretto has finally been completed after some 30 years of planning. Occupying over 86,000 square feet, the concrete piece of land art is now open to the public and coincides with the artist's 100th birthday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcQhDWGoR00 New Gibellina, built to house the displaced residents of the old town is now situated 12 miles away from its predecessor. In the wake of the disastrous event, Alberto Burri decided he would concentrate his attention on what was left of Gibellina when artists and architects were asked to contribute to the foundation of New Gibellina. In doing so, Burri, unlike his counterparts, chose to cover the area with slabs of white concrete, over five feet tall, punctuated only by his signature cracks (roughly nine feet wide) that follow the original street plan. The stark emptiness of the installation echoes the horrors of the earthquake. Burri started his work in 1985 though construction halted after just four years, stopping short at 64,000 square feet of his proposed 86,000. Thanks to the Fondazione Burri, the work has now been fully realized which has prompted a series of celebratory events in New Gibellina notably an installation called AUDIOGHOST 68 that features the band Massive Attack, Robert Del Naja, and Italian artist Giancarlo Neri. For the installation, hundreds of portable radios were dotted across the surface of the concrete and lights from the audience contributed to create the effect of a thousand fireflies dancing in the night through the cities veins—a poignant reminder of what once was. A video of the installation can be seen above. In addition to this, Burri's works have seen a remarkable resurgence of late. A new exhibition, Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting, is now open at the Guggenheim New York (closing on January 6), meanwhile another New York gallery, Luxembourg & Dayan is currently exhibiting Alberto Burri: Grafica. The artist's works at auction have also been subject to a recent rise as the graph from Artnet illustrates.
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Shigeru Ban to help relief efforts in Nepal

Shigeru Ban, the Pritzker Prize laureate known for his humanitarian work, is lending his design talents to earthquake-ravaged Nepal. Ban's Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) will start by distributing tents that can serve as shelter and medical stations. Then, over the next few months as conditions in the country stabilize, VAN will expand its presence by working with local universities to build housing and community facilities that are based on the prototypes of Ban's other post-disaster work. In a 2013 Ted Talk (below), Ban explains his humanitarian work, which started 20 years ago, when he built shelters made out of recycled paper tubes for Rwandan refugees. https://youtu.be/q43uXdOKPD8 To donate to VAN's current efforts in Nepal, visit Shigeru Ban's website. [h/t ArchRecord]
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What’s shaking up Dallas-Fort Worth? Dozens of earthquakes rattling the Texas metroplex

15138051297_021221e45d Thirty-four earthquakes have occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex city of Irving since October 2014. Over the past week, the Dallas suburb has been shaken by a number of earthquakes from a common source point lying roughly below the former site of Texas Stadium. Those 34 quakes have contributed to the over 130 occurrences since 2008. The number is staggering considering the seismic activity in the region was non-existent prior.   stadium The number is considerable but perhaps even more alarming has been the recent magnitude. On January 6, two quakes at 3.5 and 3.6, recorded at a depth of 3 to 4 miles below the surface, were felt as far as the central business district in Dallas. With the ongoing seismic activity has come a series of debates focused around the recent spike in number with fingers pointing directly at the increased fracking activity in the region. Though occurrences have been numerous, reports of damage have been minor. The speculation is just given the source’s proximity to the Balcones Fault, which runs from Larado on the Mexican border up along the path of Interstate 35. The fault defines the line between the cross timbers and farmland to the east and the Texas Hill Country and Great Plains to the west. Seismic activity on the fault has been minor for centuries. In recent years, the disposal of wastewater nearly 10,000 feet below the Earth’s surface has been linked to a number of tremors throughout the region. Though any connection between seismic activity and hydraulic fracturing has been denied by the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil industry in Texas, a team of professors from SMU have begun an intensive study of the Texas Stadium site to identify the cause of the recent increase in earthquakes. The recent earthquake activity will undoubtedly continue to raise additional questions that surround the true positives and negatives behind fracking practices, an argument thoughtfully outlined by Brantley Hightower in May of 2014. For more specifics on the recent quakes the Dallas Morning News has compiled a series of hypothetical outcomes in a recent issue.
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Los Angeles proposes ambitious, and costly, earthquake plan

In the wake of damaging reports about Los Angeles' unpreparedness for the next Big One, Mayor Eric Garcetti yesterday proposed a new earthquake plan that, if passed, would require owners to retrofit thousands of wood frame and concrete buildings. The report, led by the mayor's Science Advisor for Seismic Safety, Dr. Lucy Jones, would specifically target "soft-first-story" buildings and "non-ductile reinforced concrete" buildings built before 1980. It also recommends shoring up the city's water supply in the case of an earthquake, developing an alternative firefighting water supply and facilitating stronger pipes and aqueducts. The effort would also upgrade the city's telecommunications and power networks to prevent dangerous disruptions. You can read the full report here. "Instead of being complacent and then jarred into action by a devastating earthquake, LA is moving forward proactively," Garcetti said in a statement. The city's last major earthquake legislation came in the 1980's, requiring retrofit of vulnerable brick buildings. Outside of political questions, the biggest issue to implementation, of course, would be cost. According to the LA Times, the cost of retrofitting a modest wooden apartment building ranges from $60,000 to $130,000. According to the New York Times the cost of retrofitting some builders could easily exceed $1 million each. The mayor has no formal plan to aid property owners with payment, but he offered the prospect of tax breaks  (such as a 5-year business-tax exemption), access to private lenders, the waiving of permit fees, and CEQA exemptions as possible aids. As for improving public infrastructure Garcetti has proposed a statewide "Seismic Resilience Bond Measure" that could be introduced in a future election. According to insurer Swiss Re, Los Angeles faces greater risks of catastrophic loss from earthquakes than any city in the world except Tokyo, Jakarta, and Manila. Sobering thought. As California State Geologist John Parish told AN, "This ain't Kansas." Some business leaders have argued that plan will be too expensive without substantial financial assistance. Others argue that it's being proposed too late.
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On View> Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake

Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake MAK Center 835 North Kings Road West Hollywood, California Through January 4, 2015 The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 devastated the island nation, setting off a tsunami that destroyed over 300 miles of coastline, causing the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and leaving more than 20,000 people dead and 470,000 without homes. The severe damage from the catastrophe propelled architects to take action, swiftly and creatively, as illustrated in a new exhibit, Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. Faced with the slow moving bureaucracy of the government response, a number of architects—including Manabu Chiba, Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (of Atelier Bow-Wow), Senhiko Nakata, Osamu Tsukhashi, and Riken Yamamoto—decided to take matters into their own hands and work with local communities to rebuild, using a myriad of design solutions. Through this grassroots movement, the show explores how architects can jumpstart and participate in recovery efforts following a natural disaster.
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On View> Installation exposes earthquake country in Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Domus Materials and Applications 1619 Silver Lake Blvd Through Spring 2015 You can't tell at first glance, but Silver Lake gallery Materials & Applications is measuring the ground shaking beneath your feet. Their newest installation, Domus, by D.V. Rogers, detects worldwide seismic activity measured by the US Geological Survey and reveals it with a 7-foot-tall, multi-colored LED "light chandelier" display and with pulsing sounds. All is encased inside a 20-foot-tall, six-sided "hexayurt" made with simple exterior insulation panels and filament tape. The installation will be up until next Spring. A key component of Domus is to engage people with earthquake-preparedness and post-disaster strategies, a reality that is often ignored in temblor-prone Los Angeles. The structure itself is an example of low cost architecture for possible disaster zones. Rogers has already hosted workshops on the topic, and more events are planned during the show's duration.
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Washington Monument Re-Opens to the Public: Celebrate With These 22 Beautiful Photos

After two-and-a-half years of repairs, the Washington Monument is officially back open to the public. The District’s tallest structure had been closed since 2011, when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake sent more than 150 cracks shooting through the 555-feet of marble. At the cost of $15 million—which was financed by the federal government and a private donation—all of the monument’s damaged stones were either removed or resealed, and the 55-story elevator was repaired. Some of the monument’s new marble even came out of the same Maryland quarry that supplied material for the structure when it was first built over 100 years ago. During construction, the structure was wrapped in 500 tons of scaffolding, which was designed by Michael Graves. At night, the supportive envelope was entirely lit up and appeared like hundreds of glowing bricks. To celebrate the re-opening, AN's editors gathered up 22 of the most beautiful photos of the Washington Monument through the years, dating all the way back to the beginning. Take a look below. (And also check out the monument's moving shadows on Google Maps.)