Seismic Performance Objectives for Tall Buildings, PEER Report 2008-101


The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center is leading an initiative to develop guidelines for new high-rise construction that will meet intended safety and performance objectives following future earthquakes, particularly when alternative means of design are employed. An initial task of this initiative was to investigate the issues associated with identifying seismic performance equivalent to that achieved by code and whether a higher seismic performance should be targeted for these buildings. Many stakeholders were interviewed for this purpose, and a workshop was convened to discuss the results and to establish a direction for the technical design portions of the overall initiative. The investigation found that the establishment of a higher seismic performance objective for certain buildings was a public-policy issue that should not be decided by engineering studies, but also that many owners, tenants, and other stakeholders did not understand standard code building-performance objectives and thought that even a small chance of collapse was unacceptable for any building. Many thought that even building closure due to damage should not be expected or tolerated and that seismic risk should be disclosed to owners and tenants in an understandable format.

It is recommended that procedures to predict collapse (or to prevent collapse) be improved, that risks from cladding in tall buildings be investigated, and that the Tall Buildings Initiative cooperate with multidisciplinary efforts to minimize risks from egress and ingress characteristics of tall buildings.

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William T. Holmes
Charles Kircher
William Petak
Nabih Youssef
Publication date: 
December 2, 2008
Publication type: 
Technical Report
Holmes, W. T., Kircher, C., Petak, W., & Youssef, N. (2008). Seismic Performance Objectives for Tall Buildings, PEER Report 2008-101. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.