Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Design Solutions

Turkey has been on our mind this week. Yesterday, I was talking with Kamal Ahmed, a project manager with us who is originally from Lahore, Pakistan, about the recent earthquakes in that part of the world. Our conversation went to prevention, and the seismic base isolation system that is becoming more common. In this case, it saved a hospital from collapse.

When the foundation of what one might consider a traditional structure is met with an earthquake, it has a tendency to fall like a pancake, making rescue efforts almost impossible and resulting in a higher loss of life. Base isolation “decouples” the vertical building from its base, increasing the likelihood it can withstand the earthquake and tremors. You can see the effect in action here. The system was first developed in New Zealand in the 70s and is becoming more common in the U.S., with several prominent California structures utilizing the technology today.

Good design is the cornerstone of construction. In an ideal world, a structure should be useful, aesthetically pleasing and durable. Base isolation certainly checks the “durable” box. It’s always refreshing to see a problem with a potential solution, and I hope we’ll continue to see this innovation employed in high sensitivity areas. In the meantime, our hearts are with the people of Turkey and Syria as recovery teams continue their disaster efforts.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.