Mass-wood CLT building survives earthquake test
July 31, 2017 | 10:29 pm CDT
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SAN DIEGO  - A full-scale validation of new CLT wood building components  was completed at The successful test took place on the world’s largest outdoor shake table, at the University of California San Diego. Katerra, a construction startup investing heavily in cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction material, saw its seismic shear wall tested.
DR Johnson, a leading developer and supplier of CLT products, also saw them tested on the table. This first of its kind research project in the U.S. was reported July 13 at Woodworking Network, and was covered during a presentation at the Leadership Forum July 18 by Todd Black, manager of CLT products for DR Johnson Lumber. 


How cross-laminated timber buildings are built

How are cross-laminated timber buildings constructed? Adera and Structurlam take us inside Virtuoso, North America's first market multi-family CLT development.

Katerra's wall system was tested at three different intensities -- medium, large, and extreme (8.0+). The wall system achieves its seismic resistance through rocking mechanisms placed along the base of each CLT panel, allowing the building to absorb energy and flex horizontally under load.

The results showed that: 
  • Under medium intensity the system experienced no damage
  • Under large and extreme intensity, damage occurred, but only at the connection devices
Collectively, the CLT performed as well as steel or concrete. However, in the event of an earthquake, Katerra’s wall system allows the damaged connection devices on the building to be pulled out and replaced, often within just hours, rather than scrapping the whole structure – something not possible with steel or concrete. 

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.