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Design Team

Why should the building design team care about seismic restraint? This is a rather simple question with a simple answer. It is a code requirement, but more importantly the loads that are generated during a seismic event have a large impact on the design of a building. The seismic loads that are generated from the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in turn need to be resisted by the structure itself; so the structural engineer needs to design the structure in a manner that will allow it to resist these loads. In most cases when you make something stronger it becomes larger which can affect the architectural design of a building. This is why the whole design team needs to be aware of the potential impact of building a structure in a high seismic area.

The intention of the International Building Code (IBC) is to reduce the rebuilding costs after an earthquake and ultimately the liability to a building owner. The initial added construction costs associated with following the IBC will be much less than the cost to fix a building after a seismic event has occurred. After the Loma Preata earthquake in Southern California, the International Code Counsel discovered that the majority of the buildings were damaged due to mechanical and plumbing failures within buildings. The IBC was introduced to fix this problem by requiring buildings in high seismic areas with high impact to human life to restrain mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment and utilities.