Monday, March 14, 2011
We all are reeling from the devastation in Japan and the horrific visuals that are being presented, my heart bleeds for them. This however, is not my topic I wish to address.
I do not know about other countries but here in the US the news agencies keep asking us, “What if…in the US?” This is the subject I want to enlighten some of you on. You know my past career was in architecture, right?! Do you know the first design puzzle you are taught to solve?
Building codes; most Americans assume building codes are put in place to save them from such disasters or at the least minimize the loss of life. This is not always the case.
Brief history; building codes evolve from disasters. For every US disaster the code is re-written to strengthen future buildings against whatever disaster just transpired. The LA high-rise fire added verbiage protecting against fires leaping floors vertically. The Beverly Hills supper club fire changed egress requirements and so on.
The code we now use is known as the International Building Code, though why I’m not sure. We do not impose building practices such as Canada or Japan, ours are lax in comparison. Never does the code require retro-fit (requiring existing building to meet the new code).
The design question we are asked to solve? How do I build this and still meet code? Generally the design breaks so many code requirements you as the detailer just laugh. You are then rewarded with the order of, “just make it work.”
I bring this entire subject up because here in the US we live with a false sense of security. There are buildings on the west coast that no, will not survive a quake. Many of the bridges throughout the US will collapse and utilities will just not be there. Disasters occur in every state of the union and earthquakes are not limited to the west coast.
Think of where you live; how many bridges do you cross to get somewhere? Imagine if those bridges were suddenly gone; an example to make you think.
The entire point to this post is knowledge. Knowledge is power to prevail. As horrific as it is to watch things unfold in Japan it could have been much worse. Japan understood their environment, their land, their building materials and planned, properly.
I realize this is a downer of a post, for that I apologize but for you my US blogging buddies I want awareness. I want you to know I never stay in a motel room above the 7th floor, I fly across bridges and I hate high-rise buildings.
I am not a chicken little and no the sky is not falling; I am an informed mother hen passing on knowledge to her flock.
My hearts weeps for Japan and my mind says silent prayers. I pray both for Japan and for us. Again I apologize for this downer of a post. Try to have a wonderful week in spite of me.
Peace my friends…