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Re: Hardy Frame, between code changes

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Jeff -

In my opinion, if you know the upcoming code requires 2:1 H/L ratios for the
shear walls and you are still designing for 3.5:1 just to sneak in under the
deadline, you are doing your client and your profession a disservice.  As a
professional licensed engineer, you have a responsibility to design to
incorporate the best available thinking into your design not just blindly
finally the letter of the Code book.  Particularly in circumstances following
a "learning experience" such as an earthquake, are we bound to wait for code
changes to be written and adopted before we try to pass on our experience into
new projects?

We were faced with this exact shear wall issue following Northridge.  Our
office is in LA which was enforcing 2:1, while surrounding cities such as
Malibu and Santa Monica, where we do a lot of work, were not.  We insisted
that our clients follow the more restrictive guidelines because we felt
irresponsible giving them a lower quality building just because some
bureaucrat hasn't gotten around to changing the code language.  High and
mighty as this sounds, I know there was a difference in opinion (or at least
in practice) with local engineer's regarding this issue.  I still think we did
the right thing to insist on forcing our client to follow the "new" code even
if it wasn't quite in force yet, because we knew, as you do, that it was

As to the architect, he needs to face reality with regards to the new
structural system, whether it is now or 6 months from now.  That is part of
his job.  The use of steel frames is usually how we solve the lack of shear
wall problem.  The architect can often accomodate the frame with a 2x8 wall to
hide the frame.

I would encourage you to do right by yourself and your client.  Remember, you
are being hired for your expertise!

Bruce Resnick, SE
Parker Resnick Str. Eng.