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[SEAOC] "And The Buildings Will Not Even Catch a Cold."

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Dear Colleagues,                                                  December 3,

The following "Letter to the Editor" was published in recent Structural
Engineers Associaton of Northern California and Structural Engineers
Association of Southern California newsletters.  In response to numerous
requests, it is repeated here so others who do not have access to these
newsletters will have the opportunity to read this Letter to the Editor.

"And The Building Will Not Even Catch A Cold"*

"On a recent airplane flight in early December 1995, I had the privilege of
talking to a professor from one of the CUREe universities.  He expressed his
concerns about the ethical and professional liability issues related to the
structural engineering profession being able to meet the goal of Vision 2000,
which is to develop the framework for procedures that yield structures of
predictable seismic performance - Performance Based Seismic Design.

"He was very concerned about the ability of knowledgeable structural
engineers to design and retrofit buildings to meet the Vision 2000
performance goals and levels of  "Fully Operational" and "Operational" (Refer
to Figure 2-1:Spectrum of Damage States, Vision 2000 - Part 1, April 3,
1995.)  His concerns was that structural engineers have an inadequate data
base of full size testing of systems and components and their actual
earthquake performance on which to base the necessary engineering judgements
to design and retrofit buildings to meet these seismic performance goals and

"He was also concerned about the apparent structural engineer's innocence and
unsophisticated understanding of the legal issues related to their practice
compared to medical doctors.  All medical doctors eventually "fail" and lose
all their patients through death if they outlive their patients.  They do not
even try to offer perpetual life unless they are quacks or charlatans.  Yet
they are willing to spend considerable sums of your money - with your
permission, of course - to extend your life for a few years.  If you follow
their recommendations your life can be extended.  However, they do not offer
perpetual life and along the way you will still catch colds.

"Now with Vision 2000 performance levels of "Fully Operational" and
"Operational" structural engineers are offering to provide owners the
equivalent of "implied warranties" and seismic risk-free "perpetual life" for
their buildings if these structural engineers will just follow some enhanced
design and quality assurance procedures.

Frank E. McClure, Consulting Structural Engineer    
* All rights reserved.  July 30, 1996" 

Frank E. McClure    FEMCCLURE(--nospam--at)