PEER Leads Tall Building Initiative

Several west coast cities are seeing an upsurge in the construction of high rise buildings. This tall buildings boom has created a demand for performance-based approaches that will enable construction using new framing systems rising to heights outside the range of building code prescriptive provisions. The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) is responding to this need by leading an initiative to develop design criteria that will ensure safe and usable tall buildings following future earthquakes.

Collectively known as the Tall Building Initiative, this project involves the Applied Technology Council, Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, Los Angeles Tall Buildings Structural Design Council, San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, Southern California Earthquake Center, Structural Engineers Association of California, U.S. Geological Survey, PEER, and several practicing professionals.

The initiative is funding a range of short to intermediate-term projects over the next 24 months. One early task will bring together appropriate professionals and stakeholders to achieve a consensus on appropriate seismic performance objectives for tall buildings, including consideration of safety and serviceability. Another task will develop guidelines on selection and modification of ground motions suitable for tall building designs, including generation of synthetic motions for large magnitude earthquakes at short distances. Still another major task will develop engineering procedures for modeling, analysis, and design to meet the target performance objectives.

The initiative is guided by a Project Advisory Committee comprising EERI members Norm Abrahamson, Yousef Bozorgnia, Ron Hamburger, Helmut Krawinkler, Marshall Lew, Ray Lui, Jack Moehle, Mark Moore, Farzad Naeim, and Paul Somerville. Broader community engagement will be achieved through a series of regular workshops and other outreach activities. For more information, including information on how to participate in upcoming workshops, go to

posted on October 2006