After many years of careful planning and hard work, the Hillside House has taken its place as one of the most seismically advanced houses in the country. In previous posts, I related the background and process of design. We’ve finally reached the most exciting part of the story – construction!
The first step of the installation happened “below the surface”. To transfer the loads from the steel frames to the foundation, the Structural Engineer devised a specialized steel column/baseplate to be cast into the concrete. Each post was integrated into the steel reinforcing of the basement concrete wall allowing only a ¼” tolerance from perfect placement – and there were 21 of columns to install. Fortunately, the Contractor was up to the job and handled it beautifully!
In the design of the Hillside House, we were guided by the dreams of the Owner, our own observations, professional experience and intuition. While our desire for every project is to create a well-made, functional and beautiful home, this project’s goal of “Earthquake Safety” took us further than ever before into the realm of the “well-made”. The technological advances required to meet this goal ultimately expanded our team to include: a military grade hardware supplier, a Ph.D. in earthquake Geotechnical Engineering, Finite Element Analysis software and the World Leader in Earthquake Monitoring.
In a previous post, I related how we began this journey, with an awareness of the limits of the Building Code, the benefits of a Performance Based Design and the idea of using a fluid viscous dampened steel structure.
Originally developed as aerospace technology for the MX Missile and Stealth Bomber, dampers aretypically used in construction on very large buildings with significant seismic forces, so our next step was to see if dampers of the size we needed were even available. When our Structural Engineer spoke with a representative at Taylor Devices, the premier maker of these dampers, he was informed that indeed they did have devices “small” enough for our intended use, and that Continue reading →
The August 24, 2014 earthquake in Napa provides us with another reminder of the challenges of living in the Bay Area – one of the most beautiful places in the country. The quake was strong, but fortunately wasn’t the “Big One”; so the damage was limited and no one was seriously injured or killed. Safety in an earthquake, even a very large one though, doesn’t have to depend on fortune. Building science and technology available today can not only prevent death and injury, but can also prevent destruction and minimize damage to the places where we live, work and play . One of our projects, which we call the Hillside House, is among the first residences in the country to use such technology. Let me share a little background information to help set things in context.
Modern Codes have made our buildings much safer than those of yesteryear, but the standards they set do not require the best possible analysis or technologies be used. The general goal of the Code in an earthquake is to Continue reading →