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RE: Complexity of Code

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Peter, let me add that the practitioners should have experienced not only
the materials that he or she is creating code methods for, but the types of
structures that these methods will be applied to.

Considering wood framed structures, tracts, multi-residential and custom
homes all require different approaches. Tracts are built to accommodate the
developers profit margins. Multi-residential structures have more rigidity
in the permanent lateral force resisting system and are less prone to major
changes. Custom home have the greatest potential for change to the major
structural elements of the building. Custom homes can raise the roof, remove
important shearwalls, replace new walls that require the entire structure be

I don't feel that there is sufficient strength of either character or as a
practitioner of wood frame construction that can convince the other members
of the Seismology committee of the economic and practical importance of
creating code with flexibility based on the intended use of the structure
now and later.

Dennis S. Wish, PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Higgins [mailto:76573.2107(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2001 3:40 PM
To: INTERNET:seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Complexity of Code

I cannot agree more.

A while ago, I compared the rosters of the original Blue Book committee
with the latest. An interesting exercise

Original: 28 members, of whom 20 were active practitioners (i.e. applying
their seal to major new designs), most of them emminent men in the field
whose names are easily recognized by people today. The rest were academics
and building officials. I do not believe any ICBO or other code publishing
persons were members.

Latest: 67 members, of whom about 20 were active practitioners, the rest
academics, and a large proportion of ICBO/code body persons. Very few "big
names" in the sense of the original committee.

The trend is clear: the "code making" committees are getting larger, while
the proportion of active pratictioners is dropping. The end result is
getting very "unfriendly" for the everyday engineer. Some of the most
arcane stuff is finding its way into the code. No active practitioner would
sanction most of the newer provisions. They lack easy applicability, let
alone clear intent.

Over 2/3 of the present committee writing seismic code does not practice
engineering for a living. Small wonder the practioners cannot figure it

The first thing SEAOC could do to restore their stature would be to purge
about 40 members from the seismology committee and subcommittees and
institute a rule that at least 50% of the members of any committee be
active practitioners. An active practitioner would be defined as a
functioning EOR who applies his seal to actual construction, not a code
type or professional "peer reviewer" type. This would require support for
the new members, who would have to be attracted, but usually are far too
busy to participate.

Peter Higgins, SE