Infrastructure Management

Designing for the Seismic Environment; Advice for Architects and MEP Design Professionals – Part 2

As I recalled in my previous blog, when in 1996 I was first tasked with collating the guidance on offer to architects and MEP design professionals for the seismic environment, I thought that much of the literature had more in common with Greek mythology than scientific reason. In fact, based upon some of the inquiries I handle today, some myths remain pervasive and must be very profitable for someone.

For me the fog created by the mythology of conventional wisdom began to lift when a work associate and I made contact with the core group in the earthquake engineering field responsible of for earthquake code development.  As the global experts outlined the intent of seismic design fundamentals the fog dissipated rapidly. As I’ve also spoken about though, translating this highly specialized subject in a way that aids implementation for today’s building design and MEP professionals is something that requires modern tools.

Over the last two decades, a large body of non-government participants has distilled the best of the best in global earthquake engineering and science to provide an ever-increasing set of reference documents and tools to simplify the task of integrating code compliant seismic mitigation into commercial building designs. At a minimum the following publications are recommended for the design professionals bookshelf and it is humbling to confess that I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of them during my career:

From the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Publications Website:

Building Code Referenced Standards:

ISO 13033:2013 Bases for design of structures – Loads, forces and other actions – Seismic actions on nonstructural components for building applications (top level guidance document that member countries use as a foundation in the development of country specific national building codes)

Engineering Textbooks:

Earthquakes 101, Maps, Near Real Time Reports:

The above listing is just a hint of the wealth of resource material that is in the public domain for those that want to establish their seismic design competencies on the foundation concepts and best practices from the global experts in earthquake mitigation. If you have a question that can’t be found in one of these references or their associated citations, it’s most likely an indication of a future research gap need – leave a note for me in the comments and we can start a dialog! Finally, if you hear someone refer to one of the FEMA documents as “that FEMA code” take a picture – you may have a photo of a flying horse! You can also register for our dedicated Consulting Engineer portal site to access additional tools, resources and product information.


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