Shiling Pei
Associate Professor
Colorado School of Mines, Denver

Earthquakes can cause severe damage to tall buildings, resulting in tremendous repair and replacement costs. Although wood buildings were historically limited in height, the invention of mass timber construction has brought wood material into this new market. In the US, with the newly passed International Building Code (IBC) provisions to enable mass timber building up to 18 stories, there is an opportunity to use this sustainable and light-weight material to develop tall wood buildings that are resilient against earthquake hazards. Specifically, the opportunity to build tall mass timber buildings with adaptive open floor plans that can survive large earthquakes without major damage, thus minimize down-time for building owners and occupants. Imagine a wood building that can survive historical Northridge Earthquake (M6.7) without any structural damage. The tenants can move right back in after a major earthquake because there will only be a few drywall patches to repair.

Seismically resilient tall wood building is the focus of the NHERI TallWood Project, which is a National Science Foundation and industry funded collaborative research effort involving researchers and engineers from US, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. The concept of damage-free wood construction is built upon two decades of research work on post-tensioned wood systems. Specifically, this project focuses on 8 to 20 story mass timber building archetypes that could fundamentally change the future of tall wood construction in seismic regions world-wide. In this presentation, findings from the TallWood Project will be discussed; and its final validation test plan to build and test a 10-story wood building at the world’s largest outdoor shake table at San Diego in 2021 will be revealed.