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

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Another thought or two, the day after:


  1. I agree with Nels and Frank that mandatory school attendance was/is the primary motivator for increased standards for public schools. Mark notes that this logic does not seem to be uniformly applied at the college level.
  2. Increased lateral force levels do not automatically translate into better buildings. Fundamentally sound structural configurations, good detailing and on-site QC count for a lot more in my book. Much of this cannot be codified. Probably preaching to the choir here.
  3. Henry Degenkolb taught me to learn from observations of earthquake damage. Learning from the absence of damage, (see Mark Gilligan's post), is a little less straightforward, since we have such a difficult time assessing the level of ground motion at any given site. I would say that good performance is usually relevant when viewed over a larger statistical population, i.e., a class of building may perform well when subjected to strong ground motion, whereas poor performance is more suitable for review on a structure by structure basis.


John Silva, SE


-----Original Message-----
From: FEMCCLURE(--nospam--at) [mailto:FEMCCLURE(--nospam--at)]
Monday, March 10, 2003 16:55
Cc: Engleross(--nospam--at); EQMENDES(--nospam--at); MESSINGERD(--nospam--at); FEMCCLURE(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Philosophy of School Design - Was:
Long Beach CA -- March 10, 1933


Eric Green,

I agree with Bill Cain's email comments concerning the success of the Field Act.

What are you missing?  You stated that you had children.  Unless they go to private schools or are home taught,  it is my understanding that children in California are required to go to the K-12 public school in their school district.  If the children are required by State law to attend the public school in their school district with a few exceptions,  then the students deserve a higher level of protection because of the enforced attendance.

The public schools are designed using a process that includes slightly higher design standards, approval by the State of the construction documents that have been reviewed by experienced State structural engineers, and observation of the construction by the design professional as well as State structural engineers, including written certification by all the design professionals that the construction is in substantial compliance with the construction documents.  Violation of any the provisions of the Field Act are considered a FELONY.

What is the basis for your statement that an office building you designed and was approved by the local building department with the issuance of a building permit would kill 100's of people just because you used a lower factor of safety in the design of the office building as compared with a public school?

I am looking forward to your reply.

Frank E. McClure  March 10, 2003
California S. E. 649
Former member of the Division of the State Architect (DSA) Advisory Board.