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Earthquake Engineering Head First Public Lecture 2013

NZ’s Earthquake Engineering Head To Deliver UC’s First Public Lecture For 2013

March 3, 2013

The head of New Zealand’s earthquake engineering group, Associate Professor Stefano Pampanin will deliver the University of Canterbury’s (UC) first What if Wednesday public lecture for 2013 on campus next week.

UC civil engineering professor Pampanin, president of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, is working closely with major construction companies in the Christchurch rebuild.

He will give an overview next Wednesday of recent breakthrough in low-damage earthquake-resistant solutions in New Zealand and overseas. For further information see:

``Some issues about the rebuild that I will raise in my lecture will be: does better mean more expensive? Will we go bankrupt if we try to be safer? Do we need to reinvent the wheel? What can we learn from our ancestors? How can we merge modern technology with their wisdom?’’ Professor Pampanin said today.

``Earthquake engineering is facing a challenging era to set higher levels of expectations. The Canterbury earthquakes sequence has represented a tough reality check.

``The renewed challenge is to provide low-cost, widely affordable, high-seismic-performance structures capable of sustaining a design level earthquake with limited or negligible damage, minimum disruption of business downtime and fewer socio-economic losses.

``A paradigm shift towards damage-control design philosophy and technologies is urgently required. We do have options and solutions to make this happen as part of the Christchurch rebuild but also of the Safer New Zealand project.

``Many people think it will be unaffordable. But this is not necessarily the case if we use what has been developed as part of a natural progress in earthquake engineering and building technology. We have already started fast tracking earthquake engineering projects in collaboration with industry and the Government.’’

Since last year Professor Pampanin has been considering the strength of parts of two of Christchurch’s most iconic deconstructed buildings, the Grand Chancellor and the PwC buildings. Four sections of the PwC building were extracted and preserved for UC testing. Two other beam-column joints from the Grand Chancellor hotel have also been preserved and will be tested.

``Last year we entered the PwC building several times for a detailed damage report inspection while the controlled deconstruction of the upper floor was occurring.

``We managed to select big beam columns from the building which were between the 14th and 16th floors. It would have been good to preserve something from the lower floors as they were the most damaged ones but that was not possible as the deconstruction technique moved from a cut-and-crane approach to the use of high-reach excavator and jaw-cracker which pulverized reinforced concrete elements.

``The four building parts weigh about 20 tonnes each. We will test how many aftershocks these critical connections could have withstood and if traditional or innovative repairing and strengthening techniques could have worked.’’

Professor Pampanin’s testing project has been funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation as part of the Natural Hazards Research Platform.

Photo, standing from left to right: Jan Geesink (Project manager of Arrow International), Daniel Smith (from Daniel Smith Industries Ltd), UC Professor Stefano Pampanin. Up on the blocks, from left to right: John Maley (UC Chief Technician) Alberto Cuevas (UC PhD Student).


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