Media Advisory: UB to conduct earthquake building tests Thursday

Instructors and students from Iroquois Job Corps Center in Medina, pictured above with UB researchers, helped construct the building. Credit: Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo.

Researchers will use shake table to simulate quake on full-scale wood-frame building; could help change building codes, make new buildings safer

Release Date: December 20, 2023

Portrait photo of Andreas Stavridis from 2015.

Andreas Stavridis

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Members of the news media are invited to the University at Buffalo on Thursday, Dec. 21, for earthquake tests that could help lead to millions of buildings nationwide being safer from earthquakes.

Researchers will use an earthquake shake table to mimic how a series of quakes affect a one-story, wood frame building with a brick veneer wall.

The work could ultimately lead to safer and more rational building codes within the International Residential Code, researchers say, and improve the safety of millions of wood frame buildings throughout the United States, including many in Buffalo and Western New York.

When: 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21. (Testing will begin at 11 a.m.)

Where: The Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) at Ketter Hall on UB North Campus. Here is a map to Ketter Hall. Media members can park in “Service Vehicle” spots in the adjacent parking lot.

Visuals: Researchers do not expect the 23 ft by 23 ft building (about the size of a common two-car garage) to collapse as a result of the shaking. Instead, they anticipate the wood frame will prevent the building from suffering serious structural damage.

Who: The project is led by SEESL Director Andreas Stavridis, PhD, associate professor of structural engineering.

Additional participants include faculty from the Washington State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as instructors and students from Iroquois Job Corps Center in Medina, which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps program. (The instructors and students assisted in the construction of the building that will be tested.)

Background: The tests are part of larger series of tests led by UB concerning new residential buildings made of a wood frame and masonry veneer walls. This type of construction is the most common building type for residential construction in the U.S. The research team aims to assess the current design provisions in the International Residential Code, as well as provisions proposed to rationalize the design. The test data may end up changing the building code used in residential buildings.

The test structure has been designed so that each wall has different design details. Some conform to the current building code, while others follow new guidelines that could be adopted in the future editions of the International Residential Code. The tests will investigate the effectiveness of current design guidelines and compare them with guidelines proposed by the research team.

Funding: The project is supported with funding from the Brick Industry Association, with in-kind and labor contributions from industry partners. 

Media Contact Information

Cory Nealon
Director of Media Relations
Engineering, Computer Science
Tel: 716-645-4614