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Building for earthquakes: DesRoches talks to Boss Magazine about what we’ve learned in recent decades

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Earthquakes are unpredictable and devastating, but we’re getting better at building our communities to withstand the shaking ground, according to experts in the cover story of Boss Magazine's spring 2015 issue.

Among those experts was Karen and John Huff School Chair Reginald DesRoches, who explained how our understanding of earthquake engineering has improved in recent decades.

“We certainly know how to design well now to resist earthquakes,” DesRoches told writer Allen Abel. “One factor is modeling — our computer power is so much better that we have the ability to model not just buildings but a whole community and the soils around it. And we also are moving to create protective systems; for example, space-isolation systems underneath buildings to protect them when an earthquake occurs.”

DesRoches also recalled his work in his native Haiti after a catastrophic temblor destroyed many communities and killed hundreds of thousands of people:

“I had been to other earthquakes, but it was almost numbing to me to see not only the devastation in terms of the infrastructure, but you could sense death all around you. People would say, ‘There are 40 bodies in here. There are 40 bodies in there.’ It was the most difficult experience I’ve had in my life in many ways.”

Read the full story in Boss Magazine (it starts on pages 8 and 9):