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Top 10 earthquake resistant buildings of the world

The mere mention of earthquake brings images of upheaval, devastation and disaster. Not only does it turn an entire landscape into shambles, but also bring lives of thousands and millions to a complete standstill. These lateral forces produced by seismic waves are not a new acquaintance to humankind, but rather has been plaguing mankind right from the Bronze Age, having destroyed some impressive cities with sophisticated architecture. And, this dilemma has only gotten worse with the growing urban skyline housing throngs of people in its soaring structures. 

Now the question arises, Can we not create a constitution rugged enough to withstand the pressures of tectonic activity and save our people and environment? Fortunately, our scientists, engineers and architects are burning the midnight oil to help devise a number of clever technologies, to ensure that houses and skyscrapers can survive the brutal lashes of an earthquake and save the inhabitants of such buildings safe and unharmed. We have designed 10 of such buildings which have adopted terror-thwarting technologies, some of which are new and some are still being tested, but all in all work towards a common goal of keeping environment safe from this natural calamity.

Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

For the U.S. state, the Utah State Capitol is the house of government. Being susceptible to earthquakes, the Utah State Capitol installed its own base isolation system, which was completed in 2007. The base isolation system involves the building to be resting on a network of 280 isolators made of laminated rubber sitting on the buildings’ foundation. These lead-rubber bearings are attached to the building and its foundation with the help of steel plates. In the event of an earthquake, these isolator bearings, being strong vertically and not horizontally, allow the building to rock gently back and forth, resulting in moving the foundation of the building but not moving the structure above it.

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport

The city of Istanbul, being located at the confluence of 3 major tectonic plates is susceptible to earthquakes and therefore, houses one of the largest earthquake-resistant ‘The Sabiha Gökçen International Airport’. Apart from withstanding a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, this 2 million square-foot structure is also designed in a way that it can remain completely operational immediately after such calamity. It employs the triple friction pendulum isolators that help the building stay aloft in the event of an earthquake. The highly sophisticated computer simulations used for installing these isolators, make them cost effective as well.

Taipei 101

Taipei 101

Taipei 101, formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center – is a landmark super soaring skyscraper in Xinyi District, Taipei, and Republic of China. Originally deemed as one of the tallest buildings in 2004, this 1,667-foot-high skyscraper used a tuned mass damper to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. This architectural beauty has an enormous mass near the top of the structure which is suspended by steel cables and in the event of an earthquake, this mass damper works as a pendulum moving itself in the opposite direction of the swaying building, thus, dissipating the energy and vibrational effects caused by earthquakes and typhoons. This diminishes the dynamic response of the structure in the event of any seismic activity. Taipei 101 houses one of the world’s largest tuned mass dampers in the form of a gold-colored ball weighing about 730-tons at the heart of its structure.

The Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is the world’s largest artificial structure located in Dubai, UAE with an enormous height of 2,722 feet. With being the tallest in the world since 2009, this structure embodies Islamic culture in its design in the form of the spiral minaret. The engineers have created this mega tall skyscraper in a fashion that it can withstand earthquakes ranging from 5.5 to 7.0 on the Richter scale. In 2008, an earthquake in Iran rattled the building, but the advanced engineering saved the Burj Khalifa - unharmed and unaffected.

The Yokohama Landmark Tower

The Yokohama Landmark Tower

The Yokohama Landmark Tower, located in the Minato Mirai 21 district of the Yokohama city of Japan, is the second tallest building in Japan standing 972ft. high. Being highly prone to earthquakes ever since humans occupied the geologically active island chain, the Japanese have always constructed their buildings facilitating earthquake safety. This landmark structure embodies a number of earthquake-thwarting measures. The primary measure being, it is placed on rollers, which in the event of an earthquake prevents it from shaking as it allows the earth below to move without disturbing the structure. It not only employs a mass-damper system to weigh it down but, is also built with materials so flexible that in the event of an earthquake it would cause the building to bend rather than break.

The U.S Bank Tower

The U.S Bank Tower

US Bank Tower, formerly Library Tower and First Interstate Bank World Center is located at 633 West Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles, California. Being the tallest building in the earthquake-prone state of California, the U.S Bank Tower stands 1,018-feet high, and contains 1.3 million square feet of office space. The building was constructed to withstand an 8.3 magnitude earthquake, which scientists believe is stronger than the San Andreas.

The Transamerica Pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid, the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline, is another building with earthquake resisting abilities, which it owes to its solid structural engineering. This tower stands 853 feet high and was originally built in a manner to allow its neighboring buildings to enjoy sunlight in spite of its soaring height. This magnificent structure sits on a steel and concrete foundation, which is designed to move with the earthquakes. Also, it uses diagonal structures which get inserted into the rectangular areas of the building frame thus giving it more support.
It’s the use of these terror-thwarting measures due to which this tall tower has even survived a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 1989 that caused this 48-story high tower to shake for over a minute, but it still remain unaffected.

The Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers

The tallest buildings in the world until 2004. The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is structurally built to resist earthquakes. With a height of 452 meters they still remain the world’s tallest twin towers and include the world’s tallest 2-story bridge connecting the 41st and 42nd floors. The bridge between the towers, also sports an interesting feature of being able to slide in and out of the towers thus preventing the wind from putting load on the towers.

One Rincon Hill South Tower

One Rincon Hill South Tower

An upscale residential complex on the apex of Rincon Hill in San Francisco, California, United States is One Rincon Hill South Tower. The South Tower sports a large water tank that is basically liquid mass damper designed in a manner to help the mega tall structure to withstand the pressures of strong winds and earthquakes. The South Tower also boasts of a buckling restrained brace, which is a structural brace in a building, designed to allow the building to withstand cyclical lateral loadings, typically earthquake-induced loading.

Citicorp Center

Citicorp Center

The Citicorp Center, an office tower in New York City, U.S standing 915-feet high is one of Manhattan’s earthquake resistant buildings. Originally built with weaker bolded joints, this tower was structurally unsound due to the wind-loading pressure on the joints. Therefore, a 410-ton concrete tuned mass damper was added to stabilize its internal structure and counteract the effect of wind pressure on the building. Being the first skyscraper in the United States to feature a tuned mass damper, makes Citicorp Center a notable center.

Thanks to these new technologies, some of today’s largest buildings can stay safe in the event of an earthquake without compromising their sizes or aesthetic designs. Apart from this, a large number of the world’s towers also use architectural elements to protect them in the face of a natural disaster.

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