New SEAOC Seismology Subcommittee on Resilient Structural Design

By SEAOC Board Members Chris Kamp, Janah Risha, Kate Stillwell, and Taryn Williams

The SEAOC Board is in support of recent efforts to bring about resilient communities and buildings, which are particularly relevant as local jurisdictions explore how to make their communities more resilient.   SEAOC is striving to be integral to these discussions, interpreting what resiliency means to the structural engineering profession and developing actionable items for resilient structural design that can be used in practice.

To that effect, the SEAOC Board is supporting the formation of a SEAOC Seismology Subcommittee on Resilient Structural Design.  The Seismology Committee has been addressing aspects of resilient structural design and current related documentation for several months and has the energy and momentum to address this most efficiently.   While this is a Seismology subcommittee, due to the diversity of the subject, the SEAOC Board has instructed that this subcommittee shall be open to participation by members of all MOs and other technical committees, such as the Existing Buildings and Ad-hoc EPRS committees.   Based on the response and development of actions of this subcommittee, it is possible that this subcommittee may eventually become a standing SEAOC committee.

As one example of community action, Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti has launched “BUILDING FORWARD LA”.  That initiative is a partnership with local and national organizations whose aim is to help Los Angeles grow to be more sustainable and resilient.   Another example of a recent effort to propose actionable items for local jurisdictions is summarized in a paper by Dr. Keith Porter, Research Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, entitled:  “Not Safe Enough:  The Case for Resilient Seismic Design.”   Dr. Porter’s paper is appreciated in that it is initiating a framework for the debate on resilient structures and bringing this issue to the forefront.   Dr. Porter’s paper was presented at the 2016 SEAOC Convention, and can be found in the Proceedings of the convention.    

Both of these examples are actions for which SEAOC can and should be of assistance and provide a strong technical background and evaluation.  The specific charges for the Seismology Subcommittee on Resilient Structural Design are being finalized, and will include evaluating initiatives and documents by experts outside of SEAOC, such as Dr. Porter’s paper.  The charges will consider facets of design approaches that can be considered resilient, including how this can be applied to different types of structures and occupancies.   Recommendations for the simple, regular low rise structures that constitute the majority of building stock will be included.   For aspects of the design process itself, inclusive in this effort will be consideration for the wide range of firm sizes and technical capabilities that exist within the structural engineering professional practice.

Members interested in participating on this subcommittee may contact their MO Seismology Committee or Don Schinske at

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