Earthquake-proof airport terminal in Istanbul airport

Published 30 October 2009

Large swaths of Turkey are earthquake prone; the 1999 Kocaeli earthquake, for example, killed 17,000 people, injured 50,000, and destroyed 27,000 buildings, leaving 500,000 homeless; estimates of property losses range from $3 billion to $6.5 billion; engineers claim they have made the terminal at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport earthquake-proof

The Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SGIA) terminal is claimed by its developers to be the largest seismically isolated building in the world. In just eighteen months, Arup’s global airport planning and engineering team helped transform vacant land into a structure that features seismic safety measures that surpass U.S. building standards.

The building uses 300 seismic-isolators at ground level to help absorb and dissipate energy from seismic waves. These isolators will enable the building to move in a controlled manner should an earthquake occur. Using extensive testing and earthquake simulations, engineers determined that the isolators will help the building withstand a 7.5 to 8.0 earthquake.

After undergoing extensive testing and 14 quake simulations, we are confident the design will continue functioning if an earthquake strikes,” said Atila Zekioglu, Principal of Arup and seismic expert for Arup’s airport design team.

Ensuring earthquake safety and maintaining the business continuity of the terminal was a top priority for SGIA and Arup designers. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 1999 Kocaeli earthquake in Turkey killed 17,000 people, injured 50,000 and destroyed 27,000 buildings, leaving 500,000 homeless. Estimates of property losses range from $3 billion to $6.5 billion.