Dampers Do the Job at Davis (Available only in Structural Engineering Special Issue)

by Brad Friederichs, Sr. Vice Pres.; Cole/Yee/Schubert Structural Engineers, Inc., Sacramento, CA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 9, Pg. 2A-5A

Document Type: Feature article


Three recent earthquakes�the Kobe earthquake in Japan and the Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes in California�have caused engineers to take a much more serious approach to seismic retrofits than ever before. A generally accepted retrofit practice was to use moment-resisting frames. Yet, as was demonstrated during the Northridge earthquake, such frames lose their stability under high seismic forces. Now engineers are using innovative retrofit techniques such as friction dampers, which are essentially maintenance-free energy absorbers. Friction dampers also offer the benefit of being able to reposition themselves without permanent displacement. When the University of California, Davis, chose friction dampers to retrofit three elevated water towers on its campus, it marked the first time the devices were used in California. Installation of the dampers, which took two to three months to complete, entailed welding new braces onto the towers, fastening the dampers to them, and then tensioning all members of the frame.

Subject Headings: Damping | Rehabilitation | Earthquakes | Friction | Frames | Seismic tests | Welding

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