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Re: Philosophy of School Design - Was: Long Beach CA -- March 10, 1933

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The circumstances back in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, were
considerably different than today in California. The many lessons learned
and subsequent policy changes from Long Beach are still relevant. Yet the
most obvious lessons and changes have not yet been implemented in many other
parts of the U.S. and the world. And some were not fully implemented in
California. Primary conclusions rendered in the coroner's report for the
students that died from collapsing school buildings in that event were that:

"The great amount of damage that resulted from this shock was due to faulty
construction of the buildings damaged. Buildings of good construction
escaped damage or came through with only minor damage even though situated
directly adjacent to buildings that were demolished..."

"Masonry buildings were the principal sufferers and their failure occasioned
the principal loss of life. Damage was mostly confined to those built with
poor quality of lime mortar, inadequate bonding and anchoring, or of
inferior workmanship, and built to designs which took no account of
horizontal forces..."

"School buildings, were generally of masonry walls, wood floors and roofs,
large inside areas and heights, as well as extensive window openings, and
with numerous parapets and ornaments. They suffered serious damage not only
because of inadequate provision for lateral stresses but in an important
degree because of utter lack of efficiency in workmanship. No serious damage
was done to reinforced concrete structures..."

"Recent buildings built under the ?Uniform Building Code?, even without
provision for lateral stresses, generally made a good showing, but suffered
sufficient damage to show that provision for lateral stresses should be
insisted upon. There were doubtless many instances of ignorance and
negligence in materials and/or workmanship, and there were many instances of
designs which were obviously faulty. If it were found that criminal
responsibility could be proven against any individual or individuals, it
would no doubt serve as a salutary warning to others in the future; but a
far more vital need is to bring the entire public to a realization of the
fact that general laxity and indifference to adequate building practices
have existed in the past, and to point out the importance of avoiding the
continuance of such attitude as regards the future.
To unduly suppress frank consideration with reference to earth shocks entail
a heavy load of responsibility, and we must decide now whether it is best to
do as we have done in the past and lull ourselves into a feeling of false
security, or to face the actual facts and prepare accordingly, especially as
experience shows clearly that with reasonable preparedness our future safety
can be assured..."

"If provision for safety in this regard involved burdens not economically
justified or if adequate protection imposed restrictions not commonly
encountered in good practice there would indeed be cause for concern.
Happily, the step to every assurance of safety to life and property is one
of relatively little cots and is in fact the step which normally should be
taken by communities which seek adequate protection from the elements. This
policy recognizes the fact that any structure composed of separate and
unrelated substances must, for security against stresses, have those
substances tied together, thus forming a unified, undivided whole..."

"We recommend that:
1.	The ?Uniform Building Code? be immediately adopted..."

"8. Schools and buildings of public assembly which, by reason of their
location, are subject to unusually severe hazards due to ground conditions
should be removed or made exceptionally resistant to the effects of earth
vibrations. Buildings other than schools and buildings for public assembly
should be inspected and hazardous conditions eliminated."

FYI, Fred

Fred Turner, Staff Structural Engineer, California Seismic Safety
Commission, a public policy advisory agency, fturner(--nospam--at), 1755
Creekside Oaks Dr. #100 Sacramento, CA 95833 916-263-0582 Phone 916-263-0594

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