Distinguished Lecture by Mary Comerio—”Resilience: An Engineering Challenge”

View the lecture on PEER’s YouTube Channel.

On October 14, 2013 the PEER Center, EERI Northern California Chapter, and UC Berkeley SEMM Department hosted the EERI distinguished lecture “Resilience: An Engineering Challenge” by Professor Mary C. Comerio from University of California, Berkeley.

Downtown Christchurch, New Zealand 2½ years after the February 2010 earthquake: 1800 buildings have been demolished in a 1½ square mile area.

Downtown Christchurch 2½ years after the February 2010 earthquake: 1800 buildings have been demolished in a 1½ square mile area.

Risk modeling has focused on the “3Ds: Deaths, Dollars and Downtime” as metrics for estimating building and infrastructure performance as well as for decision-making in design and in policy development. What can these metrics tell us about performance and resilience in recent disasters? What other measures of performance are suggested by the recovery experience in both developed and developing countries? What are the engineering challenges and research opportunities coming out of recent earthquakes in China, Haiti, Chile, New Zealand and Japan, and how are they applicable to the U.S. context? Are there better engineering metrics for resilience?

Engineering performance metrics typically are designed for individual components (e.g. for a building or bridge), not for a city. Resilience requires metrics that look at the performance of community components such as housing, education, civic and cultural infrastructure. Evaluating recovery experience in recent earthquakes, it is clear that funding, political will, creative planning, and good technical implementation drive the speed and quality of recovery.

To improve resilience, our professions need to participate in land use and policy planning; and we need to re-think performance measures and building codes in order to develop methods of setting performance guidelines for cities. Improving overall performance and resilience in developed countries with good codes and land use practices, as well as in developing countries, are challenges for the 21st Century.

Speaker Bio
Mary Comerio is an internationally recognized expert on disaster recovery. She joined the faculty in the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley in 1978 and served as Chair of the Department from 2006-2009. As an architect, she has designed numerous public and private facilities including market rate and affordable housing. Her research focuses on the costs and benefits of seismic rehabilitation (particularly housing), post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, and loss modeling. She is the author of Disaster Hits Home: New Policy for Urban Housing Recovery. In 2011, she received the Green Star Award from the United Nations for her work in post-disaster reconstruction in China and Haiti. In 2013, she received the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Public Service for Research in the Public Interest.

Comerio led the FEMA sponsored Disaster Resistant University Program. Her research together with the UC Berkeley campus seismic rehabilitation program was recognized by Engineering News Record as one of the ten best seismic planning projects in the United States in 2006, and by the EERI Northern California Chapter in 2012. Comerio also led the Building Systems Research in the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, during the ten years when PEER was one of three NSF funded national earthquake centers. Comerio is currently completing work on a NSF Grand Challenge project focused on the mitigation of collapse risk in nonductile concrete buildings. She recently led the PEER/EERI reconnaissance teams to both earthquakes in New Zealand and conducted a review of the housing recovery in Chile for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the United Nations Development Program.

The lecture was organized by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER), co-hosted by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Northern California Chapter, and presented as part of the Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials (SEMM) Program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley.

View the lecture on PEER’s YouTube Channel.