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NEWS RELEASE

Contacts:

Jill Andrews (213-740-3459)
Manager, Education and Outreach
CUREe-Caltech Woodframe Project
e-mail: jandrews@terra.usc.edu

Denine Hagen (858-534-2920)
Communications Director
UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering
email: dhagen@ucsd.edu

See Final Damaging Earthquake Shaking of a Fully Furnished Woodframe House

CUREe and UCSD Host the "Ultimate Seismic Jolt," Expected to Severely Damage the House

What: California Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREe) and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) invite media representatives to attend the final damaging test to be performed on a 2-story woodframe house. Viewers will be able to witness what happens to a house when it is hit with epicentral or near-fault shaking recorded by a strong motion seismograph in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles. Based on current design and building practices in California, the house has a tile roof, stucco exterior finish and all rooms finished with painted gypsum board walls. This is the first time that the house has been fully furnished, with cameras installed to record the effect of strong motion on the building’s equipment and contents, such as water heaters, shelving, TVs, bookcases, refrigerators and cabinets. The July 11 test is the culmination of five months of testing on this house, which has undergone a series of modifications to its configuration and materials and has been subjected to a variety of different recorded earthquake motions played back through an earthquake simulator (or “shake table.”) The “ultimate jolt” is expected to severely damage the house. Reporters are invited to videotape or photograph the final test and to interview project managers, including Professors Frieder Seible and André Filiatrault of UCSD. Also available will be Professor John Hall of Caltech and Robert Reitherman of CUREe who are the Project Manager and Project Director, respectively, of the CUREe-Caltech Woodframe Project. The Woodframe Project, of which this UCSD testing is a part, is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through a grant administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Information from the structural test, as well as subsequent testing on the same house, will also be used to develop new standardized guidelines for adjusting insurance claims after an earthquake. The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) is funding this portion of the project. CEA representative Mark Leonard will be attending the event and will be available for interviews.

A live Webcast of the event will be generated by UCSD’s San Diego Supercomputing Center and will be available for viewing at http://www.curee.org. Web viewers are advised to visit this Website in advance to access instructions for viewing the Webcast on July 11. Visitors to the site can get instructions on downloading free viewer software as well as run a sample video of recent shake table testing of the 2-story house to test the ability of one’s computer connection and software to access the July 11 program.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR REPORTERS: Those who want a recording of shaking INSIDE the house should have cameras capable of audio/video input recording, or should bring a separate recorder with audio/video capability. With this equipment you will be able to connect to a press-feed distribution device on site and record the video from the lab tapes immediately following the event. You will need to bring a blank tape for this purpose. A garage-door-sized opening on one side of the house will allow a view of the interior of the ground story as well as a view of the overall structure by cameras that may be set up in an area reserved for the media.

When: Tuesday, July 11, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Where: Powell Structural Research Laboratory-South; UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Directions:

From Southbound I-5: Take the Genesee Road Exit, turn Left (eastbound on Genesee), turn right on Campus Pt. Drive, turn right on Voigt Drive, turn left on Matthews Lane, parallel park along Matthews Lane and display media credentials. The event is on the left-hand side.

From Northbound I-5: Take the La Jolla Village Drive exit, turn Left (westbound on La Jolla Village Drive), turn right on Villa La Jolla Drive, turn right on Gilman Drive, turn left on Voigt Drive, turn left on Matthews Lane, parallel park along Matthews Lane and display media credentials. The event is on the left-hand side.

A campus map is available at: www.ucsd.edu/map/ucsdmap.pdf

Background: The CUREe-Caltech Woodframe Project, funded mainly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through a grant administered by the California Office of Emergency Services (OES), is aimed at developing reliable and economical ways to improve woodframe building performance in earthquakes. The project was proposed after the Northridge Earthquake when more than $20 billion in property damage occurred to woodframe homes. Twenty-five people died because of building damage in that earthquake, and all but one of the fatalities occurred in this kind of construction. CUREe is managing the project under the direction of Caltech’s Professor John Hall. Over a dozen universities and numerous consulting engineers are involved in the project. CUREe is a non-profit organization that represents a consortium of universities with major earthquake engineering programs. Researchers at the Department of Structural Engineering at UCSD constructed the house earlier this year on an earthquake simulation platform (“shake table”). Based on current design and building practices in California, the house has a tile roof, stucco exterior finish and all rooms finished with painted gypsum board walls. Both stories are fully furnished and cameras have been installed to record the effect of strong motion on the building’s equipment and contents, such as water heaters, shelving, and cabinets.

Information from 300 sensors installed inside and outside the house will provide valuable data that researchers will use to create computer simulations expected to aid in evaluating current design and construction practices. Results from this and other tests to be done on other woodframe structures will be used to modify designs for new houses and for retrofit of existing buildings.

The impact of the CUREe-Caltech project could be enormous. Although 99% of residences and many schools and commercial buildings in California are of wood construction, commonly referred to as “2x4” construction, there has been very little research focused on improving the earthquake resistance of this kind of construction. Throughout the United States, approximately 80 to 90 percent of all buildings are of woodframe construction. Laboratory testing and analysis of both residential and non-residential woodframe buildings and studies of their damage in the Northridge Earthquake will be used to improve building codes and standards, make insurance ratings and loss estimates more accurate, and train practitioners in the design and construction industry.


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