A building must do more than stand during a disaster. It must be useful afterward. Water infiltration and other issues can render a still-standing structure useless. Emily Pollock digs into this issue in her Engineering.com article, Outside In: Designing Building Envelopes to Withstand Climate Change.
The article — posted June 28, 2019 — highlights the problems with current building strategies. It starts with Hurricane Maria which hit Puerto Rico in 2017, killing almost 3,000 people.
When the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) visited Puerto Rico months after Hurricane Maria, it found that code-built buildings were generally still standing, but that water damage on the buildings’ interiors had rendered the structures unusable — a failure of moisture management.
In looking for a solution, she finds a Monolithic Dome as a good — but in her mind, extreme — option.
On the more extreme end of wind adaptation, dome-shaped buildings have few surfaces that can be impacted by lateral or uplift forces, giving them a low drag coefficient. This is especially true for monolithic dome buildings; dome-shaped buildings are cast in a single piece, without a separate roof and walls. The “Eye of the Storm” home, built in South Carolina, is one of the most famous examples of monolithic dome construction. Built after its owners lost a home to Hurricane Hugo, the building is made entirely of steel and concrete.
It’s an excellent article and a call to improve construction across all uses and potential disasters. To develop not just structural integrity, but to control humidity, prevent water infiltration, and make buildings useful after disaster strikes.
Read the rest of Emily Pollock’s article, Outside In: Designing Building Envelopes to Withstand Climate Change on the Engineering.com website.