BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The seismic tests that are conducted regularly
inside the cavernous state-of-the-art Structural Engineering and
Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) in Ketter Hall on the
University at Buffalo North (Amherst) Campus generally are viewed
by a select few: the structural engineers, technicians and students
who are integral to UB's world-renowned program in earthquake
But on Nov. 14, it will be standing room only throughout the
viewing areas in the vast, 25,000-square-foot space.
That's because at approximately 11:30 a.m., the furnished,
three-bedroom, two-bath, wood-frame townhouse that has been
constructed on top of the laboratory's state-of-the-art twin shake
tables will undergo the most violent shaking possible in a
laboratory -- mimicking the violent, magnitude 6.7 Northridge
earthquake of 1994.
Members of the UB community, as well as local residents, school
students and observers from around the world, will be able to watch
the shaking in real-time at http://nees.buffalo.edu/projects/NEESWood/video.asp
and at http://www.buffalo.edu/yourub.
"We are pleased to host this earthquake test, the largest ever
conducted worldwide on a wood building, and one that is important
to the life and safety of many people," said Harvey Stenger, dean
of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "We are grateful
to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its support and we are
very pleased to be a member of the NEES consortium, which includes
many outstanding UB faculty, led by Professors Andre Filiatrault
and Andrei Reinhorn."
Film crews, newspaper and magazine reporters, radio producers
and journalists from national and international wire services are
flying in from New York, Washington, D.C., and London to watch and
record the unprecedented event.
Major television networks, including CNN, plan to broadcast the
test and national and international publications, wire services and
National Public Radio plan to cover the event, as do Western New
York broadcast and print media.
Crews from overseas are coming to Buffalo to film the test for
segments in upcoming documentary films.
The dramatic seismic test is expected to be broadcast that day
on major television networks, and stories are expected to appear in
national and international publications.
"The NEESWood event is an exciting moment in our department's
history," said A. Scott Weber, professor and chair of the
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. "It
highlights to the world the scholarship and contributions that our
students, faculty and staff routinely make to the practice of
Andre Filiatrault, professor of civil, structural and
environmental engineering and UB's lead investigator on the
project, added: "This final test of the first year of the NEESWood
project is a fitting end to this phase of the project, covering the
whole spectrum -- from scientific discovery to public
The test is part of a four-year, $1.24 million international
project called NEESWood funded by the NSF's George E. Brown Jr.
Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).
The townhouse, which will be "furnished" down to a car in the
garage and dishes on the kitchen table, is expected to suffer
significant damage, according to computer simulations performed by
the UB researchers and colleagues at other NEESWood
During the test, 250 sensors installed inside the house will
gather detailed information about how each component of the
building behaves during the simulated earthquake. A dozen video
cameras -- eight inside and four outside -- will record the shaking
as it happens.
The NEESWood research is based on the premise that if more is
known about how wood structures react to earthquakes, then larger
and taller wood structures can be built in seismic regions
worldwide, providing economic, engineering and societal
Construction on the house and previous seismic tests were done
by a dedicated group of UB faculty, staff and students with
important contributions from colleagues at the other NEESWood
institutions, including Colorado State University, Cornell
University, Texas A&M University and Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute. Local and national companies also donated time,
materials and expertise, and a crew of construction technology
students from Erie Community College spent several weeks on the job
in Ketter Hall.
The UB tests are the first step in moving toward
performance-based seismic design for wood-frame structures.
NEESWood will culminate with the validation of new design processes
using a six-story, wood-frame structure that will be tested on the
world's largest shake table in Miki City, Japan, early in 2009.
"The results from this benchmark test at UB probably will change
the way we model wood-frame structures," said John van de Lindt,
principal investigator of NEESWood and associate professor of civil
engineering at Colorado State University.
Led by Filiatrault, the UB testing also was conducted by Assawin
Wanitkorkul, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Civil,
Structural and Environmental Engineering, and Jianis
Christovasilis, a graduate student in the department. Several
undergraduate students, including UB's American Society of Civil
Engineers (ASCE) student chapter, also participated. Hirochi Isoda
of Shinshu University in Japan and Bryan Folz of Canada's British
Columbia Institute of Technology, participated in the research at
UB during the summer.
UB staff members at SEESL/UB-NEES who have worked on the project
include Goran Josipovic, information technologies specialist; Jason
Hanley, information technologies service manager; Thomas
Albrechcinski, NEES site operations manager; Carmella Gosden,
administrative assistant; Mark Pitman, technical services manager;
Christopher Budden, Scot Weinreber and Chris Zwierlein,
electronic/instrumentation specialists; Duane Kozlowski, field
safety officer; and Robert Staniszewski, welding and steel
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York.