ASCE Pacific Southwest Region Seismic Design Competition

As part of the 2006 ASCE Pacific Southwest Regional Student Conference, a Seismic Design Competition was held on March 31st from 9am-4pm. The competition consisted of shake table testing of model 3-story apartment buildings designed and built by teams of students from seven universities. The event took place in the UCLA Structural Engineering laboratory and was hosted by nees@UCLA.

General Conference Information

UCLA student chapter of ASCE hosted the 2006 Pacific Southwest Regional Conference on March 30th through April 1st. The conference consisted of events such as concrete canoe races, steel bridge, seismic design competition and other challenging events. Seventeen schools from California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii participated in the conference.

Seismic Design Task

The task at hand was to design and build a scale model of a three story building for the client. The client had requested a performance-based design approach, with performance to be verified using shake table testing. The building model was assumed to be located in an area of high seismic hazard, with several nearby active faults in addition to the more distant San Andreas Fault. The client required that his or her structure remain fully operational under the service level event; only very minor damage was acceptable and the building was to be occupied immediately after the earthquake. The second performance level was that the building be life-safe under the design level earthquake allowing the occupants time to exit the facility to safety. The requirement of the life safe design event was that the building would not collapse, but heavy damage was acceptable.

Testing and Scoring

A scale model of the building was tested with ground motion simulations of both service and design level earthquakes. The winning building would satisfy the client's design criteria with the best combination of performance and cost (estimated as proportional to weight). The winning design would be determined as a function of total story drifts, roof-level acceleration amplification and weight. The model was limited to the following dimensions: Base dimensions not to exceed 30 inches by 54 inches at any level, the overall structure height, including the base plate, was not to exceed 5.5 feet.





Partcipating schools were:

  • Cal State Los Angeles>
  • Cal Poly Pomona
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • San Diego State
  • UC Irvine
  • UCLA
  • UC San Diego


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