News Release

Earthquake tests on 10-story steel-framed building bring together industry and academic researchers

Leveraging planned full-scale earthquake and live fire testing of a 10-story cold-formed steel framed building, industry and academic researchers are teaming up to advance modular mid-rise building construction. Construction is set to start summer 2024 at UC San Diego's NSF-funded earthquake simulator, one of the two largest shake tables in the world. 

With support of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Academic-Industry Research Partnerships program, the University of California San Diego, Mid-Rise Modular and Superior Wall Systems will explore variations in stick-framed, panelized, and modular construction methods within one unique cold-formed steel (CFS) framed tall building test specimen.  The effort builds upon the CFS-NHERI program, a National Science Foundation supported collaboration between Johns Hopkins University, UC San Diego, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with live fire testing led by CalPoly-San Luis Obispo–the latter supported by the California Office of Emergency Services/CA Seismic Safety Commission (see: for additional partners). The newly supported HUD project, entitled: Industry-Academe Partnership: Affordable and Efficient Construction of Modular High-Rise Housing using Cold-Formed Steel in High Seismic Zones, aims to contribute to advancing efficient, low-cost housing solutions that can be realized by advancing modular construction. Tara Hutchinson, a professor int the UC San Diego Department of Structural Engineering is the principal investigator for our campus. At Mid-Rise Modular and Superior Wall Systems, Diego Rivera and Peter DeMaria are key partners for the project. 

Motivation: The lack of available affordable housing across the United States is a well-recognized crisis, with new home construction at an all-time low and homelessness at an all-time high. This is a global crisis, with the world population approaching 8 billion in 2023, the United Nations estimates that 1.6 billion people live in inadequate or homeless conditions worldwide. Increasing housing for the low-moderate income population is only possible with rapid and affordable construction methods, and doing so in dense regions of the country is viable only with mid-high rise buildings. 

Modular + Cold-Formed Steel Mid-High Rise Construction = A Solution: The harmonized solution of modular + CFS offers to: 1) increase the time and efficiency of housing unit construction, 2) use less material and result in less waste, 3) render a lower carbon footprint and embodied carbon, 4) support relocation, renovation, and repurpose potential, and 5) result in tighter building envelopes, and thus greater energy efficiency. The full-scale CFS-NHERI 10-story building planned for construction at the Large High Performance Outdoor Shake table (LHPOST6) at UC San Diego will provide a unique opportunity to advance the potential of this solution, demonstrating and quantifying these benefits.


Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering