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Re: Seismic / building code

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While I acknowledge that code development is an evolution, as our
understanding of structures increases, how much real effort are we
expending to keep the codes understandable and relatively simple? Are we
just debating, adding, deleting  or changing provisions? If so, isn't
something missing? Like perhaps a concerted effort to keep it concise,
simple and easy to use.

I understand that we are trying to cover a larger variety of structures
with some features (discontinuities) that we weren't building 20, 30 or
40 years ago. To cover these additional conditions, there is a nature
momentum created to increase the size and complexity of the code. Should
this complexity be also required of the relatively simple everyday type
structures? Should there be a simplified code for simple structures that
fit into certain simple categories and a special code for structures
with unusual features?

I believe we are a bit shortsighted if we are writing provisions that a
number of engineers cannot interpret correctly. I am not familiar with
every code provision nor do I use all of them. I think that this is the
case with all of us. That is why it is so important that the codes need
to be written in such a way that when using an unfamiliar section, we
can read it and understand it and most importantly, can apply it
correctly. New codes cause unfamiliarity and a learning period will
always be required.

 All code making bodies are confronted with this same problem. Tinkering
with the existing provisions and adding new ones is the easy part.
Fitting them into a context that is easy to understand and enforce is
the hard part. We need to constantly strive to achieve the hard part,
otherwise our codes wind up looking like the IRS.


Jim Kestner, P.E.
Green Bay, Wi.