Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, my career involved the design of projects in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. When designing the primary lateral force resisting system, I would have several pages of seismic base shear calculations and, oh yeah, a one- or two-line calculation of the wind forces – just to show that seismic governed. There was no need for complete wind analysis, since the seismic design and detailing requirements were more restrictive. Of course, building components such as parapets, cladding or roof screens needed a wind design. Unfortunately, when wind appears to control, meeting the seismic requirements is not so simple.
I often get asked about Simpson Strong-Tie R&D projects. Since I can’t always talk about what new products we are working on, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek into where the magic happens. The Tye Gilb Research Laboratory is our R&D hub. Built in 2003 in Stockton, CA, the lab is named in memory of Tyrell (Tye) Gilb, a former professor of architecture and a wonderful man, who led our company’s research and development efforts for 35 years.
The 25,000 sq. ft. facility is built around 10,000 sq. ft. of reinforced “Strong-Floor,” to which all test equipment is secured. The Strong-Floor is three feet thick and designed to withstand concentrated loads of up to 300,000 pounds at any location. The Strong-Floor, basement walls and mat slab below are comprised of 10 million lbs. of concrete.
Being from California, I had always bought into the common misperception that wood light-frame construction can’t be designed to resist tornadoes. While it is true that debris impact can’t be cost-effectively designed into residential structures, there is a lot that can be done to strengthen the structure and protect the occupants inside. Using the same technology common in hurricane-prone regions, these buildings can protect people for more than 95% of reported tornadoes.
The effect of tornadoes on wood light-frame structures has been extensively researched over the last few years, and researchers agree: A strong, continuous load path is essential to minimize destruction.