SOURCE: Miyamoto International

Miyamoto International

February 28, 2011 16:17 ET

Miyamoto Investigative Team Observes 30% or More of Older Buildings in Downtown Christchurch Are Collapsed or Badly Damaged

Improved Building Codes and Greater Public Awareness Required to Protect Lives, Prevent Damage and Preserve Businesses

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND--(Marketwire - February 28, 2011) - An investigative team of structural engineers from Miyamoto International, the global earthquake and structural engineering firm, has been assessing the damage to the Central Business District (CBD) in Christchurch for a week. The team's findings to date indicate that 30-50% of buildings constructed of unreinforced masonry (URM) have sustained severe damage or collapsed. By comparison, the URM damage in downtown Christchurch is greater from a percentage standpoint than what was experienced in Port-au-Prince, Haiti as a result of last year's earthquake. Several older non-ductile concrete buildings (existing structures that fail in a brittle manner under the load of an earthquake) have also been severely damaged or collapsed.

"These findings provide proof that countries and cities that do not have mandatory retrofit ordinances for hazardous buildings are exposed to tremendous risk -- not only in New Zealand, but everywhere else in the world," commented Dr. Amir Gilani, who is leading the Miyamoto research team in Christchurch.

"We also observed that many undamaged, newer buildings experienced significant non-structural damage, which is dangerous for building inhabitants and greatly impacts functionality and business continuity," explained Dr. Gilani.

Miyamoto International CEO Dr. Kit Miyamoto, who is directing the New Zealand team from his present location in Haiti, commented, "People in cities situated in areas of high earthquake risk may have a false sense of security because they do not fully understand the intent of most building codes and equate code compliance to mean earthquake-proof. In fact, even in advanced earthquake engineering countries such as the US, New Zealand and Japan, most building codes are minimum guidelines for "life safety" only and have often proven to be inadequate for building sustainability, and at times, survivability.

"Buildings must be better designed for disasters," said Dr. Miyamoto. "Mandatory URM and non-ductile concrete structure retrofit ordinances must be put in place to save lives. And high-performance earthquake engineering must be practiced for sustainability of new buildings so they can support continued functionality of cities after a disaster. This must be done worldwide," he added.

About Miyamoto
Miyamoto International is a global earthquake and structural engineering firm that provides critical services to sustain industries and communities around the world. The firm specializes in designing High-Performance Earthquake Engineering solutions that reduce lifecycle costs and produce a positive net impact on a structure's operation. Miyamoto helps tackle some of the most challenging projects in the world from diverse offices in the Americas, Asia and Europe. The firm's clients include government agencies, private-sector organizations, developers, architects and contractors who desire highly effective and sustainable technical solutions.

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