North America’s Largest Woodworking Event | Tuesday–Friday | August 6–9, 2024


Industry & Trends

Mass Timber Structure Proves It’s Stronger than an Earthquake… Twice

The Mass Timber movement continues to gain momentum for its environmental and aesthetic appeal but a test structure proved that beauty is more than skin deep. 

Earthquakes are among the most devastating and destructive forces of nature, especially to high-rise structures. Engineers and builders have worked for decades – even centuries – to find solutions that keep buildings standing.

Now, mass timber structures – which are gaining growing acceptance due to their environmental impact as well as their aesthetic appeal – are increasingly being looked at as a possible answer to quakes too. 

This past May a 10-story timber test building just outside of San Diego was tested in not one but two experiments on what’s known as a “shake table” that subjects structures to forces “at the upper end of the Richter Scale,” according to published reports. 

It’s part of a program called the “Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) TallWood project,” a multi-institution research project that’s been going on for eight years and is charged with developing designs and standards for tall wood buildings that are resilient to seismic activity. Participants include the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Nevada, the University of Washington and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory. 

“In an earthquake, most buildings are designed to be super stiff. They don’t fall over, but they may be crushed in the process of resisting that force,” Thomas Robinson, founder of Lever, an architectural firm said in a report on the test. Many buildings survive earthquakes by simply not falling but are so internally damaged that they are unsafe to occupy and often have to be torn down, he said, adding that the mass timber structure “takes the force and allows it to be distributed as the building moves, and then brings it back to center.”

“In the back of your mind you’re thinking something might fail, what could it be. We didn’t really know,” Jonathan Heppner, a principal at Lever, also said in the interview. “Walking through the test afterward, both the non-structural and the primary structure had no visible damage, which was really great. It performed as well as anybody could have expected it to.”

Image: NHERI TallWood Project


More Industry & Trend News

  • Whatever Happened to the Interest Rate Cut?

    June 19, 2024

  • Home Builders Institute Opens Training Academy in NC

    June 19, 2024

  • Baltimore Harbor’s Shipping Channel Has Reopened: Now What?

    June 19, 2024

Register to Attend

Be part of North America’s largest woodworking show and conference.

Register Now

Apply to Exhibit

Grow your business at the premier global woodworking trade show.

Exhibit at IWF 2024

Show Hours & Location

International Woodworking Fair
August 6–9, 2024

8:30 AM–5:00 PM*
8:30 AM–2:00 PM*

*Building A opens 7:30 AM Tue-Fri

Georgia World Congress Center
285 Andrew Young International Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30313

Get Industry News & IWF Updates

Subscribe to IWF Network News.

Subscribe Now

Terms & Privacy Policy

© 2020 International Woodworking Fair, LLC Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

3520 Piedmont Rd NE #350, Atlanta GA 30305 | (404) 693-8333


Have questions about IWF? Check out our new AI chatbot and get info fast!

To get started, set your chat preference. Then click on the chat bar that appears in the lower right corner. Are you an Attendee or an Exhibitor?

Attendee Exhibitor

No Thanks

IWF 2024 Add to Calendar

Sync IWF 2024 with your favorite calendar program.

Notification Message

loading … please wait

Have Questions?

First let’s set your chat preference. Then, just click on the chat bar that appears. Are you an Attendee or an Exhibitor?

Attendee Exhibitor