October 27, 2011 Seismic Engineering Reconnaissance Team Works In Turkey to Learn from the Devastation Los Angeles, CA Download PDF

The team of specially trained structural engineers and seismic experts from Degenkolb and METU/EERI will begin their mission on Thursday.  The team anticipates observing  much of the damage in its original state.  Findings from the excursion will be used to contribute to the improvement of construction methods and building codes in high seismic zones in the United States, Turkey, and around the world.

“We are eager to come back with a better understanding of how to make our buildings at home safer after seeing first-hand the damage resulting from the earthquake,” said Stacy Bartoletti, Degenkolb CEO. “A lot of recent seismic retrofitting has been done to schools and hospitals in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, and we need to learn how these improved buildings performed. It is also very applicable to US practice. What we will learn here can help us make our buildings safer.”

Among those accompanying Hernandez will be structural engineer Rafael Alaluf of EQRM International, Professor Khalid Mosalam of UC Berkeley, Assistant Professor Ayhan Irfanoglu of Purdue University, Assistant Professor Cemalettin Donmez of Izmir Institute of Technology, Ahmet Yakut of METU, and Professor Sinan Akkar of METU.  Each team member has been tapped for his or her experience in designing new structures, seismic strengthening of existing structures, seismic analysis and seismic evaluations. The majority of the research and surveying will take place in the eastern towns of Van, the city at the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude quake, and Erdic, a city where most of the damage appears to have taken place.

In 2008, the Turkish government began receiving loans from the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development and signed a loan agreement titled the Istanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness (ISMEP).  To date, the ISMEP program budget has reached €610 million (approximately $840 million USD) to retrofit its most vulnerable schools, hospitals, and health clinics. Degenkolb Engineers has participated in more than 400 of these buildings as an expert seismic consultant.

To follow the live blogging of the seismic engineering team complete with pictures of the damage, visit http://www.degenkolb.com/blog/.

Ricardo and the METU/EERI team will follow in the footsteps of teams sent around the world for decades, most recently to Christchurch, New Zealand in February of 2011, Concepcion, Chile in February of 2010, Baja California in April of 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti in January of 2010,  L’Aquila, Italy in April 2009 and Padang, Indonesia in September of 2009.  The fully in-house funded Degenkolb reconnaissance program is designed to test and improve engineering intuition and allow employees to learn from hands-on experience.

Established in 1940, Degenkolb Engineers is one of the nation’s leading structural engineering firms in the design and seismic strengthening of buildings and lifeline systems. Degenkolb offers comprehensive design, rehabilitation, and consulting services to architects, building owners, hospitals, educational institutions, corporations, government agencies, and utility districts.  The firm has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Portland and Seattle.  Degenkolb routinely leverages firm-wide experience, calling on support from any of its six U.S. offices to ensure technical excellence on all projects.