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Friday Slide Show: Two Tipping Buildings Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

14 February 2020

We say the earth shook when we fall in love so a couple of buildings that protect against seismic activity would seem to be an appropriate antidote for Valentine's Day. We found just the thing on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.

Structural engineer Steven Tipping decided to locate his company's home office in downtown Berkeley. That meant he had to meet not only California's stringent earthquake and energy-consumption laws but also Berkeley's zoning laws for the site on Shattuck, which mandated the project incorporate a dwelling unit, office, parking and commercial space within one structure.

The result is the three-story corner building seen to the right in our lead slide show image at 1906 Shattuck.

During a large earthquake, the bearings allow the upper floors to move up to 24 inches horizontally.

But wait, there's more.

Tipping also engineered the adjacent building at 1908 Shattuck. Also three stories, it's reputed to be the country's smallest seismically isolated commercial building.

It houses Triple Rock restaurant and brewery on the ground floor with office space on the second and third floors. The upper two floors are wood frame construction "with a lateral system consisting of a series of distributed wood shear walls." Ground-floor walls cantilever from the foundation and an isolation moat surrounds the second story.

That superstructure is supported by six cantilever columns and a 14-inch thick post-tensioned concrete podium slab.

Spliced into each ground-floor column holding up the top floors is an isolator bearing which you can see from the sidewalk. "During a large earthquake, the bearings allow the upper floors to move up to 24 inches horizontally, thus limiting damage to those floors and protecting the occupants," a bronze plaque on the building explains.

There's more detail on the engineering in this piece published by Structure Magainze in July 2016.

Suffice to say the two building don't just look weird. They wobble weird. But once again, weird proves wonderful. It can save your life.

And that's something to fall in love with.

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