Designing Earthquake-resistant Structures—Engineering for Safety

Novice

  • Lesson: Earthquake Resistant Structures
  • Images of Structural Failure (Appendix C)
  • Constructing the Model Wall (Appendix B)
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How can we design buildings to withstand an earthquake?

This activity develops an understanding of why buildings collapse and what can be done to make them more resilient to earthquake ground shaking. Learners investigate the impact of seismic waves on buildings to lateral (shear) forces by simulating shaking on a model-scale wall. A 5-minute instructor demonstration and 20 and 45-minute hands-on activities allow learners to design and apply structural design elements to their model wall to resist shaking. Seismic retrofits make our cities and communities more earthquake resilient.

Why is it important to learn about earthquakes and their effects on buildings and structures? More than 143 million people are exposed to potential earthquake hazards in the U.S. that could cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage. Earthquake hazard mitigation strategies improve the preparedness of communities and households prior to an earthquake event. The ShakeAlert® Earthquake Early Warning system for the West Coast of the U.S. aims to complement earthquake mitigation and preparedness efforts.

Objectives:

Learners will be able to:

  • Explain how structural reinforcement carries the horizontal and vertical loads of a building during earthquake shaking.
  • Explain the importance of seismic engineering design and retrofitting of unreinforced buildings for earthquake resilience.
  • Articulate how mitigation is part of a suite of sustained preparedness actions to reduce the risk of damaging impact on buildings and the built environment.

Keypoints:

At the end of this activity, learners will be able to:

  • Explain how structural reinforcements carry the horizontal and vertical loads of a building during earthquake shaking.
  • Explain the importance of seismic engineering design and retrofitting of unreinforced buildings for earthquake resilience.
  • Articulate how mitigation is part of a suite of sustained preparedness actions to reduce the risk of damaging impact on buildings and the built environment.