Now Available! FEMA P-2090/ NIST SP-1254 Special Report

The joint FEMA P-2090/ NIST SP-1254 Special Report, Recommended Options for Improving the Built Environment for Post-Earthquake Reoccupancy and Functional Recovery Time, is available for immediate download.  This report was requested by Congress as part of the most recent National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) reauthorization, and is the work of a Committee of Experts including more than 30 individuals from federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private sector entities, disaster management professional associations, engineering professional associations, and professional construction and homebuilding industry associations.

The report provides options in the form of recommendations, tasks, and alternatives for improving the built environment to increase resilience and reduce the impacts of future natural hazard events.  It includes one overarching recommendation and six additional supporting recommendations. Across all recommendations, there are 17 tasks identifying necessary actions and nine possible alternative actions needed for implementation.  Finally, the report includes an assessment of the recommendations and describes a path forward for implementation.  

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Applied Technology Council, A Non Profit Corporation Serving the Structural Engineering Profession

Vol. 4 No. 1     APRIL 1995

Redwood City, Calif., April 29, 1995. The Applied Technology Council (ATC), Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in cooperation with the Japan Structural Consultants Association (JSCA) and several other organizations, have announced plans to prepare a report on case studies of buildings and other structures damaged by the January 17, 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan.
Roland Sharpe, editor of the report and leader of the bi-lateral U. S.-Japan reconnaissance team that surveyed structures in Kobe shortly after the earthquake, announced the publication plans in Redwood City earlier this week. Sharpe indicated that the report “will archive critically needed information on the performance of buildings and transportation, port, and industrial structures. It should assist design professionals in both countries to understand the reasons for the extensive structural damage. Why, for example, did an intermediate-level story collapse in approximately 110 mid-rise frame buildings?”
“The reconnaissance effort was made possible through the generosity and invaluable assistance of JSCA members and the Building Research Institute, Ministry of Construction,” said Sharpe, who has chaired a series of six bilateral U.S.-Japan Workshops on the Improvement of Structural Design and Construction Practices conducted biannually by ATC and JSCA since 1984. “JSCA representatives arranged housing and transportation, provided structural engineers to guide the team members through the damaged areas, arranged access to damaged structures, and provided important information on structural characteristics, including plans of some damaged structures. We are forever grateful.”

The Kobe earthquake report will focus on issues directly affecting seismic design practices in both countries. It will provide:
•     an overview of past and current Japanese design practices,
•     descriptions of the design and construction characteristics of buildings and transportation, port, and industrial structures in the Kobe region,
•     discussions of performance trends as a function of structure type and design code,
•     case studies of approximately 50 structures, and
•     a summary of findings and conclusions.

Information to be provided in the report was gathered by a team of 27 structural engineering practitioners and researchers representing ATC, SEAOC, JSCA, ASCE, the Council of American Structural Engineers, and the Earthquake Engineering Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley.
The report will be made available through ATC and SEAOC. Publication is expected in the summer of 1995.
ATC Releases Additional Information on Narrow Plywood Wall Tests (see page 2).  

Reports of the ATC/SEAOC test of narrow plywood shear wall panels, as described in the prior ATC News Bulletin, have reportedly caused some engineers to question the adequacy or reliability of hold-down devices manufactured by the Simpson Company.
While Simpson HD-5A hold-downs were used as a part of the test panel assembly, the use of some other manufacturer's product or some other type of generally available hold-down device would not have had any significant effect on reducing the lateral deflection the panels experienced. The larger than generally anticipated deflections reported were the result of the entire system distortion. The problem with the system is that the large height to width ratio results in any movement in the hold-down or its attachment to the panel, to be magnified by a factor of four or more depending on the geometry of the panel and placement of the hold-down.
The test was intended to be of the narrow panel assembly as generally found in typical wood frame construction. Additional deflections due to shrinkage, overdrilling of holes, gaps in framing, overdriven or misinstalled nails, would further in•crease the anticipated deflections. If the large anticipated movements can not be tolerated, the solution would be to reduce the height-to-width ratio or to utilize an entirely different framing sys•tem, such as a masonry or concrete shear wall or a steel frame.
John Coil, ATC Past President


At its February 1994 meeting, the ATC Board of Directors established a new Sustaining Subscriber Program, whereby individuals who donate $2,000 or more to the ATC H. J. Degenkolb Endowment Fund become subscribers for life and receive complementary ATC reports. Individuals donating $2,000 (gold level) receive one complimentary copy each of all future ATC reports. Individuals donating $3,000 (platinum level) receive one complimentary copy each of all past and all future ATC reports.
Lawrence D. Reaveley, Chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Utah, has become ATC’s first Sustaining Subscriber (platinum level). Dr. Reaveley is a Past President of ATC and has participated in numerous ATC projects. He is currently Co-Project Director on the ATC-33 Project, Preparation of Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings, which ATC is conducting for the Building Seismic Safety Council with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Dr. Reaveley is a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah.
ATC is very appreciative of this generous donation.

John Coil Associates, Santa Ana, California, has matched the long-standing challenge by Burkett & Wong Engineers, San Diego, to donate $2,000 per year for five years to the H. J. Degenkolb Endowment Fund. First-year donations were forwarded to ATC in late 1994 by John Coil, President, John Coil Associates, and Robert Burkett, Principal, Burkett & Wong Engineers.
John Coil is the current Past President of ATC. He has participated in several ATC projects, including the ATC-33 Seismic Rehabilitation Guidelines Project, where he serves as Chair of the Wood Team. John also headed ATC’s recent program to test narrow plywood wall panels
Bob Burkett is a past ATC Board member. He has participated in several ATC-15 U. S.-Japan Workshops on Improvement of Structural Design and Construction Practices.
ATC kindly thanks these firms for their very generous donations.

ATC Endowment Fund  
The ATC Endowment Fund, named in honor of the late Henry Degenkolb, was established in 1988 to provide funding for research projects of interest to practicing structural engineers that could not be funded by other means. The funds may also be borrowed by ATC on an emergency basis to alleviate cash flow problems. The current Endowment Fund balance is $66,573.  


At its December 1994 meeting in San Francisco, the ATC Board elected officers for 1995. Succeeding John Coil as Presi•dent is Mr. Edwin Huston, of the firm of Smith & Huston, Seattle, Washington. Mr. Huston was appointed to the ATC Board by the Western States Council of Structural Engineers Associations. He previously served ATC as Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer.
Mr. John Theiss, President of Theiss Engineers, St. Louis, Missouri, was elected as Vice President. Mr. Mark Saunders, of Rutherford & Chekene, San Francisco was elected Secretary/Treasurer.
Members retiring from the Board were Thomas Atkinson, practitioner from San Diego, and Arthur Ross, practitioner from Sacramento and Past President of the Structural Engineers Associa•tion of California (SEAOC). Both individuals served with dis•tinction during their terms on the ATC Board.
Incoming Directors are James Libby, practitioner from San Diego, and Ronald Nelson, practi•tioner from Los Angeles and SEAOC President.

1995 ATC Board of Directors  
Edwin T. Huston, President  
John C. Theiss, Vice President  
C. Mark Saunders, Sec./Treas.  
John Coil, Past President  
Nicholas F. Forell, San Francisco  
Douglas A. Foutch, Urbana, Ill.  
James A. Hill, Los Angeles  
James R. Libby, San Diego  
Kenneth A. Luttrell, Sacramento  
Bijan Mohraz, Dallas, Texas  
Ronald Nelson, Los Angeles  
Charles H. Thornton, New York  


I was honored to serve as the organization's President (in 1993) and found it was a rewarding and educational experience. Although I had been a board member for a number of years, I discovered that I knew little about the day to day activity of ATC.
This discovery was possible through my close proximity to the ATC office, and Chris Rojahn's willingness to spend time with me and answer unlimited questions. I came away from this with a better understanding of ATC's operations, its opportunities and its role in the engineering community, as well as with a deep respect for the capability of ATC's staff.
The year of my term of office (1993) was very busy. This was assured by a number of large ongoing projects, including ATC-33 (BSSC/FEMA funded project to prepare Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings); ATC-34 (NCEER funded project to Evaluate R Factors and Other Critical Code Issues); and ATC-35 (USGS funded project to Speed The Transfer of Engineering Seismology Research Results to Engineering Practice).
Of particular significance was the Narrow Wall Testing project. It was funded through the Henry Degenkolb Endowment Fund and demonstrated a successful cooperative effort between SEAOC and ATC.
The establishment of a strong and positive relationship between ATC and SEAOC was one of my highest priorities. To that end, I attended all SEAOC board meetings to keep both SEAOC and ATC aware of their respective activities. This should be continued. ATC has offered its support to SEAOC on its Vision 2000 project and should continue to do so. The success of the ATC 3-06 report, Tentative Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulations for Buildings, demonstrates ATC's ability to provide resource documents for code development.
The Design Aid series has gradually made significant advances. The three main topics chosen by the Board and cur•rently under development are: Dynamic Analysis; Interstory Drift and Floor Vibrations. Continued monitoring and direction for this self-funded effort will be necessary in the coming months.
ATC's financial position is healthy and strong. To keep it that way is the task of all of us. As I said at the end of my term, the organization and its board must become more proactive. We must actively promote new research projects as done with the development and conduct of the Narrow Wall Testing project and the comprehensive wood frame testing program (currently in a planning stage).
Nick Forell, ATC President, 1993


A Workshop on National Ground Motion Mapping has been scheduled for the summer of 1995 as part of the ongoing ATC-35 program, “Transfer of U. S. Geological Survey Research Results into Engineering Practice.” Co-sponsors are the Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC), the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER), and the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC). The Workshop will be open to the profession at large.
The objective of the Workshop is to provide input to the USGS for the structural engineering community and the geosciences/geotechnical engineering community on several key broad issues that affect USGS's preparation of the next generation of national ground motion maps.
Working Groups will be formed to address the following four issues:
•     Parameters. What ground motion parameters should be mapped?
•     Reference site conditions. What should be the reference site conditions for which the maps should be prepared?
•     Risk Representation. Should maps be purely probabilistic or should they incorporate deterministic considerations?
•     Modeling. How should uncertainty in seismic source characterization and ground motion attenuation be incorporated in the mapping process and results interpretation?

Working Groups will consist of 6 to 12 members. Within each Working Group, at least two members will be selected to prepare Advocacy papers on different positions for each of the issues. The Working Groups will discuss issues presented on the papers in one or two meetings and will subsequently present their conclusions and reasoning to the Workshop participants for consideration by the Workshop as a whole.
The Workshop and the activities of the Working Groups will also serve to initiate the ATC-35 Ground Motion Initiative, which is a project to provide a longer-term examination of ground motion needs for a new generation of seismic design regulations and seismic design practice.
For additional information, contact Patty Christofferson at ATC.


The ATC-37 report, Review of Seismic Research Results on Existing Buildings, was completed in 1994 and is now available through the California Seismic Safety Commission.
The report reviews and synthesizes available research results related to the building types in the Proposition 122 California Seismic Retrofit Practices Improvement Program, approved by California voters in 1990.
The report summarizes key findings that may assist in the writing of seismic retrofit provisions and in the design of retrofit projects that are planned as part of the Proposition 122 Program. Also included in the report are summaries of 90 research projects on:
•     Nonductile concrete frame structures;
•     Nonductile concrete shear walls; and
•     Frames infilled with Unreinforced Masonry The report was developed

jointly by ATC, California Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREe), and members of the Structural Engi•neers Association of California (SEAOC), who advised and guided the project. Prof. Jack Moehle, University of California at Berkeley, served as principal author. Robert A. Bruce, ATC Technical Director, served as Principal Investigator. Joseph Nicoletti and Dawn Lehman served as research consultants, and Thalia Anagnos and John Meehan were technical advisors.
As a follow on to this project, ATC is now conducting the ATC-40 project, Development of a Recommended Methodology for the Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Concrete Buildings.

ATC Executive Director Christopher Rojahn, ATC Newsletter Editor Patty Christofferson
Any comments or suggestions for the newsletter should be forwarded to the ATC office located at 555 Twin Dolphin Drive, Suite 550, Redwood City, California, 94065.  Phone: 415/595-1542. Fax 415/593-2320.


A Commitment to Ethics, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

As structural engineers, we frame our contributions to society through our professionalism and ethics in the duties we perform. In our practice, we serve society and are active participants in the fabric of the communities in which we live. As structural engineers, we cannot limit ourselves to solving only problems of science and engineering. Ignoring the social, economic, and political contexts surrounding our engineering work is a path to irrelevancy. Our active participation includes a moral obligation to right the social and ethical wrongs we observe.

Therefore, as part of our active strategic planning process, we will critically examine the ethical values, equity, and diversity present in our internal processes and practices related to our staff, clients, and consultants.  Please read our full statement here.

Recently Released Reports

September 19, 2017 Puebla-Morelos, Mexico Earthquake: Seismological and Structural Observations by the ATC Reconnaissance Team

The ATC-141 report documents the findings of the field team, including observation of earthquake effects for 70 buildings, microtremors recorded using monitoring instruments at 7 buildings, and a compilation of processed ground motion recordings from UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and CIRES (Center of Instrumentation and Seismic Records). This report also serves as a reference to two papers approved for publication in Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Spectra Journal.

CEA-EDA-01,  Earthquake Damage Assessment and Repair Guidelines for Residential Wood-Frame Buildings, Volume 1 – General Guidelines

This two-volume series describes the process of identifying, evaluating, and repairing common earthquake damage in typical residential wood-frame houses and is intended to increase the efficiency, consistency, and reliability of the earthquake damage assessment and repair process. Volume 1 (CEA-EDA-01) is intended to be used by insurance claim representatives, building contractors, homeowners, and others familiar with construction and repair. 

CEA-EDA-02, Earthquake Damage Assessment and Repair Guidelines for Residential Wood-Frame Buildings, Volume 2 – Engineering Guidelines

Volume 2 (CEA-EDA-02) is intended to be used by structural and geotechnical engineers, and others with relevant technical experience. The Guidelines help users create a conceptual scope of repair for a wood-frame house damaged by an earthquake.

Proceedings: FEMA-Sponsored Summit on Unreinforced Masonry Buildings in Utah

The Applied Technology Council is pleased to announce the availability for free of ATC-137-2, Proceedings: FEMA-Sponsored Summit on Unreinforced Masonry Buildings in Utah presents the summit agenda, include slides from the plenary presentations, and summarize the themes expressed during the breakout discussions. 

FEMA P-530, Earthquake Safety at Home

Half of all Americans live in areas subject to earthquake risk, and most Americans will travel to seismically active regions in their lifetime. FEMA P-530, Earthquake Safety at Home, shows readers why earthquakes matter where they live, and how they can Prepare, Protect, Survive, Respond, Recover, and Repair in response to an earthquake.