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Why Is Retrofitting Necessary?

Seismic Retrofitted Building

(Header Image: chargers.com)

If you’re a building owner and received a notice that your building needs to be retrofitted, you probably have a few questions about why it is even necessary. While it may seem like just another added expense, seismic retrofitting has many benefits for both you, your building, and its occupants.

Retrofitting is the process of making older buildings safer by adding new technology or features. If you are a building owner in a moderate to high seismic area, you may have received an order from your local municipality that your building is potentially vulnerable, needs to be evaluated by a structural engineer, and may require a seismic retrofit.

More and more cities are developing seismic ordinances that apply to certain types of structures that are dangerous during seismic activity. Building structures constructed with unreinforced masonry, wood-frame soft-stories, non-ductile concrete, and pre-Northridge moment frames have all been identified as potentially hazardous to occupant safety.

If you have received one of these notices, you may be wondering why your building has met the requirements of past building codes, but now does not. Below, we will explain four main reasons behind the advancement of building codes, technology, and why a mandate on seismic retrofitting of vulnerable buildings is so important.

Reason 1: Increase Safety

The most important reason for retrofitting is to increase safety. These retrofit ordinances are designed to create safer buildings for people to live and work in, while reducing the public’s concern of what will happen when the next earthquake strikes. Earthquakes unleash massive amounts of energy without warning and can cause significant building damage and potential loss of life. Even if a building is retrofitted to current building codes, that simply means it is designed so the building will not collapse. Significant shaking inside the building can cause non-structural items to be damaged or fall including furniture, plumbing or ventilation, and other debris, all leading to the possibility of injury and loss of life.

Light fixtures fallen after an earthquake

Reason 2: Make Sure Your Tenants Have A Place To Live

According to California Civil Code § 1941.1, if you own a building in California, it is required by law that it is your responsibility to find and pay for a place for your tenants to live if your building becomes uninhabitable after an earthquake. As mentioned before, even if a building remains standing, the city could determine that the building is no longer safe to occupy after a major earthquake.

Fluid Viscous Dampers exposed inside a building

Reason 3: Financially Protect Your Investment

You have invested a lot of time and capital into your building. The proper retrofitting solution can help protect that investment. Current building codes are designed to prevent loss of life. They ensure that a building remains standing, however, damages could be so significant that the city may require the building to be demolished. It is a lot less expensive to retrofit your building now than it would be to demolish and replace the entire building, or even make necessary repairs after a major earthquake.

Reason 4: Protect Your Community

Retrofitting your building not only helps you protect your own investment, but also protects your entire community. Cities are developing these seismic retrofit ordinances to prevent extreme economic failures that can strike an entire community in an instant. For example, in 2011, Christchurch, New Zealand experienced a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. Beyond the devastating loss of life, the earthquake also had a major economic impact on the community with recovery costs around $40 billion and thousands losing their jobs. Repairs not only take longer than expected but also are much more expensive as construction companies and engineering firms become in high demand. The central business district in Christchurch, which was one of the hardest hits area, is still facing redevelopment issues to this day.

What You Can Do

Retrofitting your building sooner rather than later can help protect your investment and ensure your building is safe for years to come. It will also make your building look more attractive to potential renters or buyers.

Taylor Dampers will take building retrofitting well beyond code requirements by damping the energy from the earthquake for little or no additional cost over a retrofit that meets the minimum code requirements. Because your building will experience less movement from shaking you will have less chance of personal injury, little to no building damage, and avoid the expensive cost of repairs or complete demolition. If you would like to speak with a Taylor representative to learn more about the retrofitting process, please feel free to contact us and someone will be happy to assist you. 

If you live in California, we have created a Seismic Retrofit Ordinance page where you can learn more about current seismic retrofit ordinances in cities across the state along with additional information on where to begin.

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Craig Winters

Program Manager – Structural Products

 

Responsibilities

  • Manages all aspects of Structural Projects along with providing full customer service/support.
  • Progresses damper projects from contract execution through completion and interactions throughout the life of any structural project.

Experience

  • 30 years Developing and Building the structural damper market, along with design, manufacturing, testing, and selling of fluid damper products.
  • Managed and supervised over 800 damper projects from inception to completion using specialized devices for structural control of civil engineering structures, including hundreds of applications to improve performance under wind, seismic, pedestrian and traffic shock or vibration, for numerous industrial and structural applications, found on/in buildings, bridges, stadiums, towers, hospitals and many other types of structures.
  • Directed and managed a national and international (world-wide) network of representatives, supporting them with business development, sales visits, technical support, advertising, promotion and general marketing efforts for their various marketplaces.
  • Provided Corporate Representation and Presentations at numerous conferences and meetings annually, including those held by SEAOC, ASCE, AIST, EERI, CTBUH, IBC, and many other international bodies.
  • Publications and Presentations include papers on structural design and control of building and bridge structures including response spectrum analysis/design.

Education

  • MS in Civil/Structural Engineering from University at Buffalo
  • BS in Civil Engineering from University at Buffalo
  • BS in Physics from Fredonia State University

Affiliations

  • SEAOC – Structural Engineers Association Of California
  • ASCE – American Society of Civil Engineers
  • AIST – Association for Iron & Steel Technology
  • EERI – Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
  • CTBUH – Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Interests

  • Running 5k and Half-Marathons, Snow-Skiing, Boating and Slalom Waterskiing, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Kayaking and Canoeing, Camping, Sport-Bike (Motorcycle) Riding, and Craft-Beer “tasting”.  Winter weekends are spent coaching Downhill Ski Racing to youths.

Marcus Freeman

Technical Director

Responsibilities

  • Lead technical support efforts for structural engineers in areas of structural analysis with dampers, damper design, peer review and damper implementation (construction) for both new and retrofitted structures
  • Develop technical resources and guidelines for Taylor Damped Moment Frame design
  • Lead Research and Development efforts in advancing Damper implementation in building design

Experience

  • 8 years Structural Engineering design, analysis, and construction administration work with Magnusson Klemencic Associates
  • Lead design engineer experience on high rise residential, convention center, and aviation buildings in high seismic location
  • Registered Professional Engineer in Washington
  • Proficient with the design and detailing of steel moment frames, brace frames, and shear wall systems

Education

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Master of Science, Civil Engineering, 2015 Specialization: Structures
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering, 2013

Affiliations

  • Structural Engineering Engagement and Equity Committee (NCSEA), Chair, 2021-present
  • SEAW Young Member Group, President, 2017-2018
  • NCSEA Susan Ann “Susie” Jorgensen Presidential Leadership Award – Nov 2023 Issued by National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA)

Interests

  • Travel, live music, wine and bourbon tasting, cooking, vinyl collecting

Anthony Tiapon

Senior Project Engineer

Responsibilities

  • Supports clients and engineers with damper design by answering technical questions, providing ETABS support and providing pricing.
  • Performs Non-linear Response History Analysis in ETABS for verifying damper designs.
  • Generates educational materials regarding damper design.

Experience

  • 6 years of structural engineering design work at CYS Structural Engineers, Inc.
  • Experience with seismic and wind design.
  • Structural design experience in retrofit, wood, and steel structures.
  • Registered Professional Engineering in California.

Education

  • B.S. in Architectural Engineering, California Polytechnical State University, San Luis Obispo – 2016

Affiliations

  • Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC)
  • National Council of Structural Engineers Association (NCSEA)

Interests

  • Running, working out, hiking, going to concerts and museums, spending time with my dog.
Ben Covich Headshot

Ben Covich

Senior Project Engineer

Responsibilities

  • Assists engineers and clients with damper design, technical support, and pricing.
  • Conduct Non-linear Time History Analysis to verify damper designs.
  • Manage building, bridge and other infrastructure projects from inception to hand off at production.

Experience

  • Design of damper systems using ETABs and Modal Strain Energy methods.
  • Base isolation design (Lead Rubber Bearings and Sliding Pendulum Bearings).
  • Managed full scale testing projects at UCSD for Lead Rubber Bearings and iRDT dampers.
  • Designed, project managed, and full scale tested 2D and 3D isolation platforms at The University of Nevada Reno (UNR).
  • Seismic design of shear wall, reinforced concrete and steel structures in New Zealand.
  • Auto CAD drafting
  • Qualified New Zealand Carpenter focusing on renovation of high end residential homes, Historic Buildings and large scale commercial projects.

 

Education

  • Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), B.E (Hons), The University of Auckland – 2018
  • New Zealand Diploma of Engineering, N.Z.D.E (Civil) – 2014
  • New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry – 2012
  • Seismic Isolation Course CEE729 at UNR – 2020

Affiliations

  • New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineers (NZSEE)
  • Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC)
  • National Council of Structural Engineers Association (NCSEA)
  • Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI)

Interests

  • Anything Motorsport, Midget Racing in California and maintaining a racecar (2023 USAC Western States – Rookie of the Year) Motorcross, BBQ, House Project, Travel

Nathan Canney

Director of Structural Engineering

Responsibilities

  • Train and manage structural engineering team at Taylor to assist engineers in analysis with dampers.
  • Educational outreach and support for structural engineers interested in using dampers for seismic or wind applications.

Experience

  • Structural engineering design work at Magnusson Klemencic Associates (2 years), CYS Structural Engineers, Inc.(3 years) and various internships at Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, MA Wright Engineering, and Forel/Elsesser Engineers, Inc.
  • Registered Professional Engineering in California
  • Experience in structural design for new construction and retrofits, steel, concrete, wood and masonry structures. Design experience for seismic and wind using US and international codes.
  • Faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Seattle University for four years, teaching undergraduate and graduate students courses including Statics, Mechanics of Materials, Residential Design, Ethics, Performance Based Earthquake Engineering and Building Systems.
  • Research focused on engineering education, engineering ethics and identity formation. Over 70 peer reviewed publications in conference proceedings and journals.

Education

  • Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder – 2013
  • M.S. in Structural Engineering, Stanford University – 2010
  • B.S. in Civil Engineering, B.S. in Applied Mathematics, Seattle University – 2006

Affiliations

  • Structural Engineers Association of Central California (SEAOCC)
  • American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE)
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Interests

  • Woodworking, family time, cooking spectacular meals, backpacking, travel and photography.

Konrad Eriksen

Structural Products Sales Director

Responsibilities

  • Heads up the Structural Business Development Team.
  • Develops Damper projects in the building, bridge and infrastructure markets from concept design through to contract execution.

Experience

  • 35 year’s experience in selling, development and manufacturing of dampers and base isolation systems throughout the world.
  • Built and ran Base Isolation and damper manufacturing facilities in New Zealand and USA.
  • Built and ran a BRB manufacturing plant in USA, contracting to Nippon Steel.
  • Developed and patented 2D and 3D isolation systems for equipment and supercomputers.
  • Introduced, manufactured, and tested viscous dampers through a technology transfer with a Japanese partner for the CPMC Hospital, CA.
  • Designed and built test rigs and presses with up to 4400-ton capacity.
  • 10 years of commercial construction engineering in Wellington, New Zealand specializing in constructability challenges, foundation design, concrete durability.
  • Extensive background in rigging, erecting tower cranes and structural steel.  Designed and executed heavy lifts.

Education

  • Bachelor of Engineering (civil) Canterbury University, New Zealand

Affiliations

  • Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAOC)
  • Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI)

Interests

  • Enduro motorcycling, restoring, building and riding Ducati motorcycles, playing guitar, fishing, shooting, hunting, woodworking.

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