• The lessons of Chile earthquake to California building code

    Since the Chile earthquake, many U.S. engineers have visited Santiago and other affected cities to study the failures and successes of building codes here; Chile is of particular interest to American engineers because it employs similar building codes to those in California and also has widespread use of reinforced concrete; one observation from Chile’s earthquake that could find its way into U.S. building code concerns confining reinforcement; confining reinforcement is meant to keep vertical bars from bucking, but the design proved insufficient in Chile; one solution: requiring confining reinforcement along a greater length of the wall

  • Detecting structural defects with wind and water

    Bridges, aircraft, and wind turbines are in constant movement; natural forces and pedestrians all create vibrations; previously, time-consuming tests were needed to determine how building components would react to vibrations; now, researchers have developed a simpler method

  • Chile's concrete code for buildings called into question

    Since 1985, some 10,000 buildings three stories or higher were built in Chile — constructed in compliance with a strict building code introduced after a power earthquake which rocked the country; only 1 percent will have to be demolished as a consequence of the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that struck on 27 February; still, engineers who inspected the damage in many of the bearing-wall concrete frames of 12- to 26-story buildings say the damage calls into question the effectiveness of Chile’s building code, which does not require confinement reinforcing steel for concrete members

  • Washington State, federal officials in dam-related disaster resilience exercises

    Officials from the Tri-Cities area of Washington State, neighboring areas, and federal agencies participate in a exercise aiming to develop a strategy to improve disaster resilience and preparedness in the event of severe flooding along the Columbia River, flooding which leads to overtopping and subsequent breaching of levees in the Tri-Cities area

  • The city of Concepción moved 10 feet to the west; rebuilding infrastructure will cost $1.2 billion

    Chile’s earthquake was the fifth most powerful quake ever measured; the powerful temblor shifts one city to the west — and rearranges others parts of South America as well; cost of rebuilding Chile’s infrastructure estimated at $1.2 billion

  • Engineering earthquake-resistant buildings

    Chile’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake was much more powerful that Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude tremor; yet, Haiti’s quake claimed an estimated 300,000 dead, while Chile’s quake claimed around 800; the reason: Chile enforced building codes for earthquake-resistant structures after the 1960 9.0-magnitude earthquake; the corrupt, indifferent, and ineffective governments of Haiti never bothered to develop a meaningful building code, let alone enforce one

  • A bridge ready for the Big One

    On 17 October 1989, a 7.1 earthquake nearly caused the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to collapse; scientists say that just one or two seconds more of shaking and the whole bridge would have come down; the seismic innovations being incorporated into the construction of the new Bay Bridge will make the bridge secure enough to survive a massive level earthquake — the largest we would see in 1,500 years

  • Designing terror-proof buildings

    Terrorists attack high-profile building for the symbolism such attacks carry; students at Purdue University test methods to make buildings terror-proof, and the research results could be used in high-profile construction projects

  • New method of sensing concrete corrosion

    Researchers develop a novel sensor system to monitor the early signs of concrete corrosion, which could reduce expensive, long-term maintenance costs; the sensors measure the key parameters related to concrete corrosion — pH, chloride, and humidity — in highly alkaline environments

  • Engineers group gives Illinois infrastructure low marks

    The ASCE says that the dilapidated Illinois infrastructure is endangering the state’s future prosperity; the group examined nine infrastructure elements; the two that got the highest grade – C+ — are aviation and bridges; the others fared worse

  • Haiti earthquake a reminder that disasters are preventable

    While earthquakes are inevitable in earthquake zones, and hurricanes and tornadoes are inevitable under certain weather conditions — “there are no inevitable disasters,” a University of Colorado expert says; “There is no such thing as a natural disaster”; the scope of death and injury, the magnitude of damage to buildings and infrastructure, are the result not of nature – but of man-made decisions; what we see in Haiti is the result of decades of corrupt and ineffective Haitian governments, indifferent to the welfare of the Haitian people

  • Haitian architects, urban planners say the need is to build a better Haiti

    A group of Haitian architects, engineers, and urban planners has met every day since the devastating quake, discussing not how to rebuild the country, but how to start anew; they should start with the country’s building code; one high government official participating in the meetings says dismissively: “There is a two-page building code [in Haiti]… that nobody used”

  • Cities say new FEMA flood maps contain many errors

    In 2004 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) started the $200 million-per-year project as a way to utilize advances in mapping technology better to identify areas susceptible to flooding; FEMA officials say the new maps will allow for better zoning and help prevent future catastrophes like the June 2008 flood in Iowa, which caused an estimated $10 billion in damage; cities, developers, and residents say new FEMA flood plain maps are full of mistakes that could prove costly

  • Engineers urge overhaul of Haiti's archaic, anarchic building practices

    In Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, building codes, if they even exist, exist on paper only; all governments in Haiti, including the present one, have been corrupt, predatory, and utterly indifferent to the welfare of the people; a recent OAS report detailed a litany of flaws in Haiti’s attitude to buildings: weak or missing reinforcement, structures on steep slopes with unstable foundations, inadequate or nonexistant inspections, poor designs, materials, and techniques; Kit Miyamoto, a California structural engineer who went to Haiti last week: “No code, no engineering, means death”

  • Army engineers: Haiti's bad roads not damaged by quake

    Engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say that many of Haiti’s roads are not any worse than they were before because they have always been in poor condition; 80 percent of the major destruction is around the city’s capital; 200 million cubic yards of debris will need to be removed from Port-au-Prince