VCA has been involved with researchers who recently made news using the UCSD Shake Table to throw a series of maximum credible earthquakes (MCE) at a specially constructed prototype building. This testing is part of ongoing research into the behavior of multi-story wood frame buildings.

The prototype building was modeled after a type of “soft-story” construction found in the San Francisco Marina District. Researchers collected valuable data while evaluating the effect of retrofit schemes and products on strengthening the first floor.  As the grand finale, they hit the building with a big earthquake and drove it to collapse. The research, known as the NEES Soft-Story research project, was led by Professor John van de Lindt of Colorado State University and other prominent researchers.

New techniques of analysis, called Performance Based design, allow engineers to get better models of how buildings actually behave and when they might be expected to collapse.  As such, allowances are made to consider the effects of all building components, including finishes and interior walls, and not just the structural components assigned to be counted by traditional building code methods.

Interestingly, researchers have identified how over-strengthening the first story actually can cause other problems to appear elsewhere in the structure, which opens the door to more economical designs. The research effort has helped calibrate other tools useful in finding the sweet spot for good overall performance.

There are implications for new construction of multifamily structures as well.  Watch as VCA continues to be at the forefront of cutting edge research aimed at providing its clients the best solutions and the results they want.

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