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Re: 97 Code is a Life Safety Standard

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Lynn wrote:

> Section 1626.1 of the 1997 UBC reads as follows:
> 1626.1 Purpose.  The purpose of the earthquake provisions herein
> is primarily to safeguard against major structural failures and loss
> of life, not to limit damage or maintain function.
> The Codes failure or success should therefore not be judged by the loss
> in dollars, but by how well the number of deaths and serious injuries
> were limited.
> Lynn
> Depends on what the meaning of "is" is!

   This ambiguous language is troubling, since it seems to have been
crafted to kind of
alert the unsuspecting consumer and the public that the code presumes
"damage" in
earthquakes as part of the strategy of absorbing energy.  It also seems an
attempt to
limit liability.

   If you compare all the "purpose" statements over the years, including
the "Blue
Book's" language on what was expected to happen in the undefined minor,
and largest possilble earthquakes, you'll be even more confused.  If you
want a
purely Life Safety Code, then we should be taking out the drift limits that
were put
in to limit damage and provide occupant comfort in high rise buildings.
Would you
want every building in Turkey and Taiwan and Kobe and Northridge totally
and unoccupiable after an earthquake, as long as life loss was minimized?

   As the profession that designs and builds all of the structures that
kill people in
earthquakes, wreck the economic basis of business continuity, and devastate
only to war the connections and relationships we cherish as human beings,
don't we
have some professional responsibility to say WHAT the standard should be?
do we want the outcome to be after the earthquake?  Like for the building
owner of a
brand-new steel moment frame in Northridge?  Like for an apartment dweller
in a
nonductile concrete building in Turkey?

   Professionally, if we are going to hide behind "the Code is a Life
Safety Standard",
then we should fully disclose to the people paying us that their building
or their dream
home will be a total economic loss to them and we highly recommend it.

   "Anyone can design a building to withstand the earthquake; it takes a
Building Code
to design one that will just barely stand up!"

James Bela
Oregon Earthquake Awareness / The Quake Northwest

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