Engineering for quakes, ‘canes

The Cayman Society of Architect,
Surveyors and Engineers will host a series of lectures this week about the
difficulties in designing buildings that are both earthquake- and storm

Tony Gibbs, an expert in designing
and constructing buildings to withstand storm winds, earthquakes and volcanic
shock, is a well-known engineer practising in the Caribbean and currently a
director of Consulting Engineer Partnerships in Barbados.  Mr. Gibbs will speak about the issues
inherent in designing earthquake- and storm-resistant structures during two
half-day seminars at the Marriott Beach Resort on Thursday and Friday 17 and 18
June, 2010.

“Designing a building to cope with
hurricanes is very different to designing a building to cope with earthquakes,”
he said. “For a hurricane, you want your building to be stiff and heavy. You
would expect the structure to be intact even after a severe hurricane, with the
external walls and roof being critical for reducing wind forces and preventing
damage from flying debris.”

Designing buildings to withstand
earthquakes is different.

“For an earthquake, flexible and
light buildings perform better,” he said. “You would design your buildings in
the event of an earthquake shock to fall in a certain way to allow the people
inside it to survive.”

The lectures will address the
dilemma in the Cayman Islands, where there are threats of hurricane and

“Designing against multiple hazards
is more than doubly difficult when compared to designs against a single hazard,
especially when those multiple hazards are hurricanes and earthquakes,” Mr.
Gibbs said.

In Cayman, the significant damage
on building structures caused by Hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Paloma in 2008 has
again brought home the importance of reviewing the adequacy of the building design
code and seeking better and more innovative ways of countering this
vulnerability, a press release issued by The Cayman Society of Architect,
Surveyors and Engineers stated.

“The construction industry in the
Cayman Islands has an important role to play in mitigating local losses due
these natural hazards, and hence the need for a better understanding of
techniques that are deployed for the reduction of loss of life and injury as
well as reducing or even eliminating property losses,” the release said.

The CASE seminar will include
overviews of impacts of hurricane and earthquakes on structures as well as case
studies of natural hazard events such as the Haiti earthquake and recent
 For more information, contact Garth Arch
at 525-5603 or Andrew Gibb at 526-8888.