When it comes to protecting buildings against earthquakes – or ‘tremblors’, as they are sometimes known in the US – steel columns have an important role to play.
A base isolation system or seismic isolation system typically includes large steel columns in the basement of a building, with a break partway up that allows the upper portion to slide over the lower portion.
By sliding safely back and forth over the lower section of the steel columns, the building is able to ride out the damaging seismic waves that travel through the ground following an earthquake.
And in a week when a US Geological Survey scientist was quoted as saying a major earthquake could hit San Francisco “any day now”, it’s no surprise that tremblors are making headlines.
But one three-storey structure in the Bay Area is not shying away from its earthquake-proofing technology.
Instead, the SF Chronicle reports that the Berkeley development has its base insulators above ground, with the isolators themselves roughly ten feet high into the huge steel columns that dominate the space.
Architect Richard Fernau told the publication: “As much as possible, we want this to be visible. We don’t want to hide it.”
The ground-floor space is expected to be a ‘brew pub’ once completed, and the steel columns are bound to add an industrial feel to the space – as well as serving as a visual reminder that residents above are protected against any future tremblors.