The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

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.

This Sunday the Seattle Seahawks will host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Many believe Seattle has one of the best home field advantage’s in the NFL due to the amount of noise their fans create. While it is not one of the largest stadiums in the NFL, Seattle’s CenturyLink Field is certainly the loudest.  This weekend, representatives from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network will be studying the stadium for earthquake research. They plan on placing three seismometers around the stadium including one near the top of the stadium and one near the ground.

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  • Date occured Thursday, 15 January 2015

In a controversial move last week, San Francisco placed warning signs on buildings that violate San Francisco’s seismic safety laws. The large signs, written in multiple languages and displaying drawings of destroyed buildings, were posted on and around buildings to notify potential occupants that the building’s owners have not retrofitted the structure. While many agree that something must be done to convince building owners to upgrade unsafe structures, some feel that publicly “shaming” the buildings and its owners is not the smartest way to achieve the city’s goal. Berkeley tried something similar to what San Francisco is doing back in 2005. They placed warning signs on at-risk buildings and required owners to send letters to their tenants about the building being in danger if an earthquake hit.  Of the 239 buildings targeted by Berkeley, 100 owners voluntarily retrofitted their structures while the city had to pass a law to get the other 139 buildings retrofitted. San Francisco is going further than any other California city has in the past to notify the public by placing larger signs on more buildings.

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  • Date occured Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety ordered more seismic testing to determine if an earthquake fault line runs below the site for the Millennium Hollywood project located at the center of Hollywood’s historic downtown. The project’s developers hired geologists and engineers to perform testing, and their results did not agree with a 2006 map created by the California Geological Survey. The city geologist spoke with Millennium Hollywood’s developers and requested further trench testing. The developer’s engineers and geologists will conduct more testing and resubmit their findings to confirm that the project will not be built on a fault line.

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  • Date occured Friday, 23 May 2014