Sunday, August 15, 2010

World's largest seismically protected building (?)

Not the largest building, or the seismically safest (which would presumably be in an aseismic zone), but I guess this means the most expensively protected building in a seismically active zone.

This seems to have been San Francisco International Airport at one point, protected by 267 huge ball bearings. (I came across this while reading about bearings, because my paleomagnetic spinner magnetometer needed to have its bearings oiled.)

But, according to a more recent article from Wired magazine, the record now goes to the Istanbul Airport.
The world’s largest seismically isolated building, the new international terminal at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport, is now complete and open for business.

Stretching across more than 2 million square feet, the terminal doesn’t sit directly on the soil, but rather on more than 300 isolators, bearings that can move side-to-side during an earthquake. The whole building moves as a single unit, which prevents damage from uneven forces acting on the structure.

“What an isolation system does is that it enables the building to move through large displacements in unison, and in doing that, you absorb earthquake energy,” said Atila Zekioglu, the engineer at the firm Arup, who designed the building.

Earthquakes accelerate buildings laterally, whipping them back and forth. Isolators (see photo below) slow down the motion of the building. In the case of the new terminal, the building will only have to withstand one-fifth of the acceleration that it would have had to without the earthquake proofing.
The company Earthquake Protection Systems was a principal in both projects.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a very good idea, for most sorts of displacements. However, I wonder how it would cope with the kinds of displacements that happened in Alaska during the 1964 quake--where there was vertical offset ranging from one to ~10 meters, sometimes right in the middle of a building.


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