International Masonry Institute News

BAC and IMI Address Seismic Concerns

BAC and IMI are taking a lead role in addressing concerns over public safety and the condition of our existing building stock in the aftermath of last year’s earthquakes. The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that hit the Washington DC area in August of 2011 surprised many construction experts, who assumed that this area has the lowest possible seismic risk. Other seismic events of 4.0 magnitude or greater in seven other states during 2012 further show that the United States and Canada are vulnerable to the effects of earthquakes.

Current building codes allow masonry structures to withstand seismic forces with little or no damage. More difficult are older structures with little or no reinforcing in the masonry walls. This is why IMI is partnering with the University of Buffalo and the Multi-Disciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) on a project to determine the behavior of multi-wythe masonry buildings with wood frames. Estimates have New York City alone with over 10,000 of these mid-rise structures. “The research findings will lead us to appropriate solutions for retrofit and work opportunities in making our existing building stock safer for the occupants and general public,” says IMI National Director of Industry Development, David Sovinski.

In Maryland, a meeting between IU President James Boland and Governor Martin O’Malley led to the creation of a Seismic Task Force at the Department of General Services, where both President Boland and Sovinski serve. This task group is already identifying state-owned and operated buildings at risk and determining the best methods for retrofit.

IMI is partnering with masonry industry manufacturers and suppliers in developing training programs for the retrofit techniques. For more information, contact