Earthquake research facility

Oct. 1, 2003
Ketter Hall Seismic Laboratory, University of Buffalo, Amherst, N.Y.

A 26,000-square-foot earthquake engineering research facility will be completed this month at the University of Buffalo's campus in Amherst, N.Y. It is an addition to Ketter Hall and will be operated by the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER).

This center will provide testing capabilities that will revolutionize the understanding of how structures of all sizes behave during earthquakes. It will have twin shake tables capable of testing structures up to 120 feet in length that can be repositioned easily. The lab space also will feature a strong floor and an adjacent 30-foot-high, post-tensioned concrete reaction wall with embedded grids of fasteners so assemblies easily can be secured. A 40-ton bridge crane spans the entire space, and an elevated observation gallery runs along its length.

The earthquake-engineering laboratory will be capable of conducting real-time seismic hybrid testing. In this type of testing, shake-table experiments and computer simulations are combined in realtime to provide the most complete picture possible of how powerful earthquakes affect buildings, bridges and other structures. Networked researchers at other locations will be able to monitor experiements as they occur. Only three other similar laboratories exist in the United States.

The architect for this project is Beckhard, Richlan Szerbaty + Associates (New York).

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