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The Woodframe Project

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Projects : CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project


The CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project consists of coordinated engineering investigations and implementation activities whose objective is to significantly reduce earthquake losses to woodframe construction.  This category of construction includes larger-size apartment and condominium buildings as well as houses; non-residential (e.g. school and commercial) as well as residential buildings; and both existing and new construction. The project is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through a grant administered by the California Governors Office of Emergency Services.

The stated mitigation goal of FEMA is to reduce natural disaster losses by half by the year 2010.  The  exposure (the tremendous amount of value at risk), and the vulnerability (or damageability, as demonstrated by the Loma Prieta and especially the Northridge Earthquake) of woodframe construction makes this goal unattainable unless current trends are reversed.  The Earthquake Hazard Mitigation of Woodframe Construction project, or the CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project, is substantial in scale and comprehensive in its scope because the problem it tackles is proportionately large and multi-faceted.

The project is divided into the following five interrelated elements.  These five elements are integrated into one coordinated project by a single strategy for producing practical results.

    Element 1 - Testing and Analysis, André Filiatrault - Project Manager

    Element 2 - Field Investigations, G. G. Schierle - Project Manager

    Element 3 - Building Codes and Standards, Kelly Cobeen - Project Manager

    Element 4 - Economic Aspect, L. Thomas Tobin - Project Manager

    Element 5 - Education and Outreach, Jill Andrews - Project Manager

Management Structure: 

The project's grantee (essentially the prime contractor to California Office of Emergency Services) is California Institute of Technology.  Both the approval of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services was required for this project to be funded.  States administer the Federal funds provided under Federal disaster relief (Stafford Act) hazard mitigation programs.

Coordinating and subcontracting the non-Caltech work of the project is CUREE, the Consortium Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering, a non-profit organization established in California in 1988 and dedicated to the advancement of earthquake engineering research, education, and hazard reduction. 

In a survey of CUREE's approximately 150 members, professors at all eight of the above institutions responded with statements of interest and qualifications regarding the proposed project. Robert Reitherman, Executive Director of CUREE, will serve as Project Director and will assure an organizational infrastructure to smoothly support the variety of tasks, subcontractors, and organizations involved in the project.  Mr. Reitherman has experience in the contracting of 81 CUREE subcontracts in the SAC Steel Project funded by FEMA, and has worked on several OES-funded and FEMA-funded projects in the earthquake field over the past 20 years.

Prof. Hall will manage the managers of the project's five Elements and the technical work of the project.  He will chair the Project Committee, which will meet approximately monthly over the three-year life of the project, and which consists of the Project Manager, Project Director, Senior Advisor, and the five Managers and any assistant managers for the five elements described below.

The Advisory Committee will be balanced in terms of disciplines or professions represented, including construction industry, insurance-finance, and building code representatives as well as engineering, and state and local agencies.  Individuals from outside California will be included to ensure a national span of opinion and interests.  Especially because of the practical focus of the project, it is important to have input from individuals from various regions because of the evolving national nature of building codes.  The Committee will meet soon after the project begins.  The Advisory Committee roster lists the names and affiliations of the Committee members.

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Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 03.20.15