Project aimed at developing innovative earthquake resistant building system

Author: William G. Gilroy and Nina Welding


Yahya C. Kurama, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, is leading a project to develop an innovative building system that is economical to construct and earthquake resistant.

The research, which is being conducted in Notre Dames Concrete Structures Laboratory by Kurama and graduate student Brian J. Smith, focuses on the development of hybrid precast concrete wall systems that combine mild steel reinforcement with high-strength post-tensioning steel to withstand excessive lateral forces with minimal damage. In short, such a system would beself-centeringto a building, returning to a plumb position after an earthquake.

Traditionally, precast concrete has offered high-quality, cost-effective production in less time than other materials. However, the use of precast concrete buildings in earthquake-prone areas of the United States has been limited due to the uncertainty about their performance during seismic events. The building codes currently used for precast structures are based on cast-in-place reinforced concrete buildings, essentially eliminating the advantages inherent in precast construction. For this reason, the key deliverables from the Notre Dame project will be code validation of the new system and the development of a design procedure document for adoption and commercial application in seismic regions.

Our goal is to provide sound evidence of how such a system would act during a seismic event,Kurama said.This information can then be actively pursued by practicing engineers and precast producers in pioneering commercial applications and developing construction codes.

Funding for the project comes from the Charles Pankow Foundation and the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. An advisory panelconsisting of Walter Korkosz, The Consulting Engineers Group, Inc.; Ken Baur, High Concrete Structures, Inc.; David Dieter, Mid-State Precast, L.P.; S.K. Ghosh, S.K. Ghosh Associates, Inc.; and Neil Hawkins, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinoisprovides additional guidance. The three-year project began in January.

More information is available at .

_ Contact: Yahya C. Kurama, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences, 574-631-8377,_ " "

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