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RE: Seismic / building code

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Dear Mr. Gilligan:  Within the next few weeks, the Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC), which is currently updating the 1997 NEHRP Recommended Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures (FEMA 302 and 303) for re-issuance as the 2000 Provisions, expects to have a new web site on line -- www. -- where the 1997 Provisions and Commentary will be available for both downloading and searching.  

Further, technical questions concerning the Provisions can be submitted and will be referred to a an expert volunteer for a direct response.  Frequently asked questions also will be posted.  

In addition, proposals for change to the Provisions being developed by the 2000 Provisions Update Committee and its 12 Technical Subcommittees, an Anchorage Task Group, and a Simplified Design Task Group (charged to develop a relatively simple design procedure especially for use in areas of moderate and low seismicity) will be posted for comment on the site.  Please note that all BSSC working groups are composed of expert volunteers; therefore, direct responses to all individual comments cannot be guaranteed.  However, all comments submitted will be referred to the appropriate Provisions update committee or task group for consideration.

When the new site is up and running, a notice will be posted on this list server.  

In the meantime, the 1997 NEHRP Recommended Provisions and Commentary as well as the NEHRP Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings can be viewed at  Just register as a guest and you will receive a guest password.  Under "Library," click on "Documents ― Other."  Then, under "Organization," click on "BSSC."  The documents then will be listed on the right.

Claret Heider
Program Manager
Building Seismic Safety Council

>>> Mark K Gilligan <MarkKGilligan(--nospam--at)> 04/02 3:10 AM >>>

To let you in on a secret, some of the criticism of the code writing
process comes from those who have been involved in writing codes.  I for
one served on the SEOC Seismology Committee, and least one other
contributer to this discussion participated in the process.  I will let
this individual out himself.

The NEHRP document may have a broader geographic participation but from
what I have seen  this is about where the differences stop.  Both processes
were built on the same resource documents and many of the players were and
are the same.

I hear the protestations that the NEHRP process is more rational but my gut
feeling says that it is just as subject to  vocal individuals pushing
through changes.  I will also bet that a significant amount of time in the
NEHRP meetings is spent negotiating political comprimizes.

My point is not that we should not participate in the process but rather
that an effort should be made to address some of the political,
orginizational, and personality issues that so strongly influence which way
the codes are going.

When I was involved in writing the response spectrum provisions in the 88
UBC,  there were a number of individuals involved whose understanding of
dynamics was weak and it would have been easy to dismiss their comments. 
In many cases if you took the time to understand what they were saying
there was something worth considering.  In the same light I think that
those who are participating in the code writing process should be listening
to the engineers who are complaining about the codes.  The critics
proposals may not be the best solution, but on the otherhand it is wrong to
 ignore the  complaints.

One of the criticisms of the code writing process is that it is a fairly
closed process.  It is great if you are on the inside but not so great if
you are on the  outside.  To deal with this I would like to propose that a
copy of the NEHRP document be placed on the internet along with copies of
all proposals of chages.  The process is  funded by government funds so
there should be no problem of  ownership.

To support your contention that the code is international, you just need to
look to the Phillipines.  Their structural code is a direct copy of the
1988 UBC.  Even though the document is the same, the way it was interpreted
often differed considerably from standard practice in California.