Rachel Holland, a Simpson Strong-Tie engineer, reflects on the profound impact of the Northridge earthquake in Southern California on January 17, 1994. Living just 8 miles from the epicenter, the earthquake shaped her perspective on natural disasters and inspired her journey into engineering. In an interview, she shares her vivid memories of the chaos, destruction, and challenges faced during the aftermath. Hear how this seismic event played a pivotal role in shaping Rachel’s career and influencing her commitment to structural engineering.
While working as a structural engineer in San Jose, California, I had the great opportunity to design many retrofits of historic (and some not-so historic) buildings. Younger me loved the site visits, crawling around in the dust and dirt to create as-built drawings, and I got tremendous satisfaction from helping to make these buildings safer and stronger. Older me would not enjoy the crawling so much.
I recently wrote about the H1A hurricane tie in this post, which discussed the original H1 hurricane tie first appearing in 1972, and the subsequent changes over the years that led to our current H1A. The original H1 along with the H2 and the H3 were the first products to appear under the label “hurricane ties” in our catalog.
Simpson Strong-Tie was excited to join the annual Reddit AMA event hosted by experts in the Pacific Northwest last week to bring awareness to the International ShakeOut Day happening on October 19, 2023. This worldwide occasion sees millions participating in earthquake drills at work, school or home, emphasizing earthquake safety with the “Drop, cover & hold on!” practice. Our panel consisted of scientists and preparedness experts from government agencies in Washington and Oregon. They focused on addressing inquiries related to earthquakes, tsunamis, the ShakeOut drills and general preparedness, covering both structural and nonstructural aspects, including ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning activities in the Pacific Northwest.
Structural engineers for the Rose Avenue Elementary School project in Oxnard, California, a high seismic zone, chose to switch from special moment frames requiring welded connections to the Simpson Strong-Tie Yield-Link moment connection, which features bolted connections instead of onsite welding. This case study shares the experiences of structural engineers, fabricators and other project partners utilizing this innovative solution for structural steel construction.
On March 10, 1933, around dinnertime, a magnitude 6.4 (Mw) earthquake struck the Long Beach area of California just before 6 p.m., causing widespread damage and resulting in 120 fatalities. This earthquake became a turning point in the way that earthquakes and their impacts were understood and addressed in the western US.
“Change is the only constant in life” and “When you are finished changing, you are finished” are quotes from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus and Benjamin Franklin, respectively. I’m reminded of them as I review the numerous changes to codes and standards during the typical three to five-year development cycles. While code and standard changes can be challenging to incorporate into our work, they typically offer an improvement or expansion of design and construction solutions.
Did you know that Simpson Strong-Tie offers free education and training to the structural engineering and building industries? On May 18, 2022, a team of Simpson engineers and technical sales reps, in conjunction with Structural Technologies, hosted a workshop in Portland on fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) and fabric-reinforced cementitious matrix (FRCM) seismic strengthening solutions for concrete, reinforced masonry and unreinforced masonry structures. The workshop educated engineers on how Composite Strengthening Systems™ (our FRP and FRCM solutions) can be used to strengthen structural concrete and masonry elements in their projects. This was our first workshop event since COVID restrictions were placed, and we were excited to host the industry again.
Resiliency is a term which is becoming more commonplace within the field of structural engineering, not just in North America but worldwide. As part of a nation that prides itself on being progressive, engineers in seismic zones of Canada are already exploring innovative solutions that may help create economic structures with resiliency in mind. But what do we mean by resiliency?
In the fields of engineering and construction, resiliency is the ability of a structure to absorb or avoid damage without suffering complete failure. Structural resiliency is the ability of a building or structure to remain sufficiently sound and intact following a shock event as to allow rapid resumption of normal use.
Every year on October 17, we take a moment to reflect on the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The 6.9-magnitude earthquake was one of the most powerful and costly quakes to shake the San Francisco Bay area since the 7.9-magnitude earthquake of 1906. The quake caused an estimated $6 billion in damage and, tragically, resulted in 63 deaths and 3,757 injuries.
Many of those casualties were due to failing infrastructure when sections of the Nimitz Freeway collapsed.
Simpson Strong-Tie was founded in Oakland, California — practically in the heart of the Bay Area. Earthquakes were never far from the minds of our founders. It’s why even before Loma Prieta our mission was to provide solutions that help people design and build safer, stronger structures. However, it’s safe to say the earthquake not only reinvigorated our mission but inspired countless structural engineers who would go on to define the next 30 years of Simpson Strong-Tie research and development into community resilience.