Today was our first full day in Taiwan. We started out with an early breakfast and quickly found out Insung was the only one of us jetlagged travelers that got any sleep the first night. Running off excitement and adventurous spirits, we made our way to the National Research Center for Earthquake Engineering, NCREE.
At the NCREE building, we were graciously welcomed by some of the top earthquake engineering minds in Taiwan. Insung’s years of dedication and built-up list of contacts in ACI seemed to pay off as Professor Hwang and others happily brought out their business cards to exchange in traditional Taiwanese fashion.
We had a very informative meeting, where we learned about the nature of the ground accelerations from the Meinong earthquake, building damage, and typical Taiwan construction practices. The NCREE crew emphasized they’re striving for full open cooperation and would try to get us whatever information that would aid us in our mission. We also had a thought-provoking conversation about how public perception could be used as a vehicle for improving construction standards and design practices.
After the meeting, we made our way onto the high-speed rail from Taipei to Tainan. I’ve never seen buildings fly by that fast. Before we knew it, we were in Tainan, and Jiun-Wei pointed out a leaning hotel that made the Tower of Pisa look straight. The building was a hotel under construction, so the entire structure was exposed.
Upon getting to the site, the whole area was fenced off, but we were set on getting close enough to see some concrete details. We made our way from neighbor to neighbor, Jiun-Wei diligently asking if we could get around to the side or to the back of their property to get up close. Everyone claimed they didn’t have any access. We finally made our way down the street to a manufacturing plant that called their supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor to let us around the back.
We got right up next to the leaning building, just outside of the backside fence. We took down our many observations in the form of the mobile phone app, pictures, hand sketches, and measurements. Before we knew it, we were being prompted to leave the facility before hundreds of factory worker scooters would fill the streets as they head home for the day. We made our way to another damaged structure down the street to see a weak story collapse. A built up mound of soil and a tractor were being used as bracing for the leaning structure. We spent until dark taking down notes and discussing the surrounding buildings.
The jetlag and lack of sleep finally caught up with us at the end of the day. Time to check in, but looking forward to Day 2. Much more to learn tomorrow.