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 →