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RE: Seismic / building code

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Fellow engineers,

When I acknowledge that I am part of the code development process, I feel
like I am about to be tarred and feathered.

I for one am impressed by my colleagues who take the time to volunteer their
efforts to get involved in building code development.

The engineers that get involved are mostly practitioners who have seen the
problems (failures) in seismic structural engineering.  They don't create a
code change to make life miserable for the structural engineers
(themselves).  They make the changes for sound reasons.  

Every change that goes through the NEHRP process must list the reason.  The
changes are debated.  Every Provision must have a Commentary.  

Engineers outside of the UBC area have a long history with the AISC 7 or
NEHRP based codes.  I have used and studied many codes and design
practices(international and domestic).  Some are very well written and some
are not.  The old familiar 1994 UBC had significant flaws.  But it was
enormously more complicated than the UBC of the 1930's.  Was the 1994 UBC
perfect, or just an old familiar friend?  

I have struggled myself with change.  I started using a slide rule,
graphical analysis methods, concrete working stress design, and allowable
stress in steel design.  Life was good.  I did all of my own drawings
including steel and rebar details.  

The old UBC snow drifting provisions said that the engineer had to
"consider" snow drifting.  And there were failures.  Maybe we trash all of
the codes and have one line that says, "Engineers shall consider seismic
loading."  The entire code could be one paragraph.  Would that improve the
quality of the structures?  Should structural engineering failures be viewed
as par for the course?

I would love it if more practitioners would get involved in the code
development process.  As corresponding members of NEHRP technical
subcommittees you don't even have to travel.

The first IBC will require rework I am sure.  It will not be perfect, nor do
the developers make that claim.  All we are doing is trying to help make the
structures we design and build safe.

One other point.  Many countries have used the BOCA, SBC, UBC, ASCE 7, and
the NEHRP as a basis for their building codes.  The UBC has been produced
for many years by the International Council of Building Officials.  I don't
think that the International Building Code title is being presumptuous.

If we stop evolving, changing, improving, and learning; we cease to be a
profession.
 
Respectfully,
Harold Sprague
BSSC TS 13 Chirman
The Neenan Company