Isolating Earthquakes

by Rita Robison, Associate Ed.; Civil Engineering—ASCE, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1986, Vol. 56, Issue 12, Pg. 56-59

Document Type: Feature article


The Foothills Communities Law and Justice Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is the first U.S. building to rest on base isolators for protection against a possible earthquake of 8.3 Richter. The 98 isolators, composed of natural rubber and steel plate layers between thick steel plates, are designed to move up to 15 in. horizontally while carrying column loads varying from 170 to 1,200 kips. The isolators, according to tests, decrease the ground motions in a building's upper stories. In conventional buildings, accelerations at the top can be five times that of the ground, and it's the accelerations that cause the most damage. The 265,000 sq ft building cost $33 million.

Subject Headings: Steel plates | Base isolation | Earthquakes | Ground motion | Columns | Load factors | Damage (structural)

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