The tallest building ever to be tested on an earthquake simulator topped off at 10 stories high at UC San Diego's shake table when construction crews and a giant crane flew the last wood panel to the top of the structure on Dec. 6, 2022.
The building is made from cross-laminated timber, or CLT, a material that allows for faster construction and is also sustainable. The goal of the Tallwood project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to determine how well CLT mid- to high-rise buildings would fare during an earthquake. It is led by the Colorado School of Mines with a team of researchers from universities around the world. You can learn more about the project at the Tallwood website, in this story by the San Diego Union-Tribune and in this podcast episode.
The building is set to be tested some time early next year, and will undergo several simulated earthquakes, including the equivalent of the 6.7 Northridge earthquake that shook Southern California in 1994.
The Tallwood project is the first large-scale building to be tested on UC San Diego's shake table, one of the two largest in the world, since the table underwent a major $16.9 million upgrade funded by the NSF. It went from being able to move in one direction – east-west – to three directions – east-west, north-south, up and down, as well as roll, pitch and yaw, three motions in the x, y and z axes performed by airplanes in flight and commonly seen in earthquake motions. The upgrade to one vertical and two horizontal motions and three rotations–known technically as six degrees of freedom–will allow the facility to test structures with an unprecedented degree of accuracy when compared to real earthquake ground motions.
The shake table, opened in 2004, has tested more than 30 structures in that time, and has already made a significant impact. Tests here have resulted in changes to building codes for everything from hospitals, to tall buildings, to roads and bridges.
Find out more about the shake table's impact in this KPBSstory.