Free Guide: Steel Buildings And Earthquakes

A new publication from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the group that writes the specification for the seismic design of steel buildings in the U.S., provides a broad understanding of earthquakes and how they affect buildings. The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry.

While “Facts for Steel Buildings Number 3: Earthquakes and Seismic Design” was written prior to and does not directly address the situation in Haiti, the reader gains a basic understanding of earthquake engineering and the U.S. buildings codes that are designed to prevent this level of catastrophe.

Written by Ronald O. Hamburger of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc., this publication presents an overview of the causes of earthquakes, the earthquake effects that damage structures, the structural properties that are effective in minimizing damage, and the organization and intent of seismic design requirements for steel structures in the U.S. today and also looks at the future of seismic design.

Hamburger is one of the world’s leading experts on seismic design and chairs the AISC committee responsible for prequalifying moment connections for use in high-seismic applications. He is a past president of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations and played a key leadership role in the post-Northridge earthquake research that helped to create our current seismic design standards. For his work on performance-based seismic design, he received the AISC T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award in 2007.

AISC’s Facts series provides a look at the background and philosophy on various topics without delving into heavy technical details. They are written so as to be understandable by both engineers and laypeople. The previous two installments — “Facts for Steel Buildings Number 1: Fire” and “Facts for Steel Buildings Number 2: Blast and Progressive Collapse” — are also available for download.

To request a free PDF of the Earthquake report, send an e-mail to with the words “Earthquake Design Guide” in the subject line.