Game Changers: Base Isolation

In our first Game Changers blog, we looked at the history of steel. In this installment, we’re exploring “base isolation,” an important construction breakthrough that’s made our tallest buildings safer by helping them withstand earthquakes.

When base isolation is employed, a skyscraper’s foundation is made up of systems of ball bearings, springs, and padded cylinders. The structure essentially floats on the base instead of the ground itself. If an earthquake strikes, the base system acts like shock absorbers in a car, shouldering the brunt of the force, thus allowing the building to maintain its structural integrity. In especially strong quakes, a building may sway to and fro — sometimes several feet — without toppling.

While we’ve made significant progress in base isolation over the last 30 years, the first examples of the practice can actually be seen in ancient Persia — that’s modern day Iran — where people began experimenting with the method in the 6th century BC.

As we work to install Roof Sensor™ and Edge Defense™ across the country this year, we’re inspired by the knowledge that the Roof Monitor smart-roof system is part of this broad family of revolutionary technologies, all developed to save lives by making structures safer.

Photo by Craig Howell, via Flickr with Creative Commons License

Posted on: March 5, 2015