The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

This latest innovation is coming from Japan and combines functionality with sleek design

Engineers and construction workers impressed the world with their efficiency 

Constructed in 2006, just outside Kadonowaki, Japan, the Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital stands as a monument to civil engineering. The five-story, 402-bed hospital operated at full capacity during and immediately after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan in 2011. Surrounding the building like a moat, the hospital’s base isolation system enabled its survival without even a broken window. The steel springs and rubber dampers of the isolation system, that support the hospital, reduced the horizontal displacement of the building to just 26 centimeters. Engineers, also, estimate that several more earthquakes of similar magnitude can be sustained before the base isolation springs need replacement. Japan’s long history with earthquakes has fostered a significant culture of seismic design and much of its infrastructure is useable after an event.

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan left a devastating path of destruction and claimed the lives of 19,000 people.  Most of the hardest hit areas by the disaster including Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate were completely washed away. The Japanese government would now like to build 230 miles of walls along the coastline in these three prefectures. The project to tsunami-proof these stretches of land will cost $8.6 billion and take nearly 25 years to finance with taxpayer money.  While the government seems determined to build what is being dubbed “The Great Wall of Japan”, many of the 2011 disaster survivors feel that the walls are a waste of money and do not want to see Japan turn into a concrete fortress.

Additional Info

  • Date occured Wednesday, 02 July 2014

Construction is underway on a 1.5-kilometer long ice wall surrounding the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan. The ice wall will prevent ground water flowing from nearby hills from mixing with the polluted soil beneath the nuclear plant. It is estimated that 400 tons of groundwater passes underneath the reactor’s basement each day. The chemicals used to cool the reactor have seeped through cracks into the basement walls and pipes and have contaminated the soil. The project, which began on Monday, will be completed in March 2015. The Japanese government is funding the project, which is expected to cost $313 million to construct. The owner and operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power, will conduct several months of testing on the ice wall once it is completed to ensure that it is working properly.  Tokyo Electric Power plans to maintain the ice wall for over a hundred years.

Additional Info

  • Date occured Monday, 02 June 2014