Life-Safety, Key to Seismic Evaluation

by Chris D. Poland, Sr. Prin.; H.J. Degenkolb Assoc., Engrs., San Francisco, CA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1988, Vol. 58, Issue 7, Pg. 62-65

Document Type: Feature article


Most buildings in the U.S. don't meet modern standards for withstanding potential damage from possible earthquakes, and existing buildings present one of the greatest risks to life in our cities—so much so that many government bodies are now considering implementation of mandatory seismic strengthening programs. In an effort to establish a uniform method for analyzing and evaluating an existing building's potential for providing a safe refuge for its occupants during an earthquake, the California-based Applied Technology Council is promulgating standard ATC-14: Evaluating the Seismic Resistance of Existing Buildings. The technique identifies and assesses a building's seismic stability based on a comprehensive compilation and evaluation of the performance of similar building types during past earthquakes. When the need for strengthening is identified, ATC-14 provides specific information on the location of the key deficiencies, but it does not prescribe actual strengthening procedures. The various steps involved in carrying out the procedure are also described.

Subject Headings: Earthquake resistant structures | Earthquakes | Existing buildings | Safety | Seismic tests | Seismic effects | Damage (structural) | Risk management

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