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USC Building Has to Overcome Simulated Shakes in Basement

September 11, 1988

How do you design a building so that it will stand still while simulated earthquakes are going on in its basement?

This was the problem faced by Abbott Marshall Partners of Santa Monica, architects for USC's $10-million, three-story Kaprielian Building under construction on campus.

The simulated earthquakes will be prompted by a set of four shake tables in the basement of the Kaprielian Building, which will house the university's engineering department. The shake tables will test models of proposed office complexes, bridges and other multiple structures.

The assemblage of shake tables will be the largest in the world, according to Joe Devinny, associate chairman of the USC civil engineering department. Currently, the largest is in Tokyo.

One of the tables will weigh about 10 tons and be able to test models that weigh up to 5 tons.

Abbott Marshall believes the firm has solved the problem of keeping the Kaprielian Building stable during tests by placing a 10-foot-thick concrete wall around the simulator's room.

Completion of the Kaprielian Building is scheduled for April. The contractor is McKee Construction of Los Angeles.

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