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NZ designed structural systems will help in the rebuild

NZ designed structural systems will help in the rebuild, UC experts say

February 20, 2013

Two University of Canterbury (UC) structural engineers believe there is an opportunity for the Christchurch rebuild to raise the bar and lift the minimum acceptable performance of new buildings using New Zealand-designed structural systems.

UC associate professors Stefano Pampanin and Greg MacRae will talk at the national Steel Innovation Conference in Christchurch tomorrow about issues relating to a safe rebuild of the city. They say changes to the construction of high-rise buildings will allow the city to rebuild to a higher level of resilience.

Professor MacRae is an expert in steel construction and has been involved in the development of other similar damage-resisting solutions for steel structures around New Zealand. He will be a keynote speaker tomorrow morning before Science and Innovation Minister Hon Steven Joyce delivers his address.

Professor MacRae, whose research has directly resulted in code changes and improved construction in USA, Japan and New Zealand, will provide an overview of emerging solutions for low-damage structural systems for steel buildings, looking at New Zealand as well as international best practice.

``Low damage construction would allow the city to be immediately occupied and business to be quickly resumed after a major earthquake event.

``Many of these construction methods have been implemented in buildings around New Zealand. Costs are comparatively low and the benefit is large, so how can we not adopt it?’’ Professor MacRae, New Zealand’s representative to the International Association of Earthquake Engineering, said today.

The conference will hear about recent highlights of unique low-damage steel technology being implemented in practice. It will case study the new major construction of the Medical Centre on Kilmore Street which is implementing post-tensioned rocking and dissipating steel walls or braced frames, with a combination of devices developed at UC.

The combined features make it a world first, according to Professor Pampanin, who is co-authoring a paper on the project and has been involved in design and analysis.

``The high tech design and flexibility of these low-damage solutions, which we have managed to develop over the years, has provided a legacy for UC engineering. Low damage post-tensioned rocking and dissipating systems will be ideal for the rebuild, regardless of the material adopted - be that concrete, steel or timber,’’ Professor Pampanin said.

``There are already good examples in the CBD of buildings implementing the concrete, timber or steel technology. It is great to see a strong endorsement, growing interest and commitment from architects, engineers and clients.

`` A significant paradigm shift is already happening in order to move the minimum `acceptable’ target from life safety to damage control. Cost-effective solutions are available and can and should be further developed, refined and disseminated within the wider construction industry. We are living in a new era of earthquake engineering and implementing what will be the next generation of seismic resistant buildings,’’ Professor Pampanin said.

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