Bracing for Disaster: Earthquake-Resistant Architecture and Engineering in San Francisco, 1838-1933

Bracing for Disaster: Earthquake-Resistant Architecture and Engineering in San Francisco, 1838-1933

by Stephen Tobriner
     
 

Cultural Writing. Architecture. Are we prepared for the big one? In 1906, San Francisco was destroyed not by the terrible earthquake of April 18, but by the fires that ensued. Yet journalists and historians then-and now-have been quick to point out the speed and supposed sloppiness with which architects and engineers rebuild San Francisco after every major

Overview

Cultural Writing. Architecture. Are we prepared for the big one? In 1906, San Francisco was destroyed not by the terrible earthquake of April 18, but by the fires that ensued. Yet journalists and historians then-and now-have been quick to point out the speed and supposed sloppiness with which architects and engineers rebuild San Francisco after every major earthquake. The conventional wisdom holds that corruption prevents proper seismic safety in new buildings. But those presumptions are far too sweeping, according to architecture and earthquake scholar Stephen Tobriner. In fact, for the past one hundred and fifty years, architects and engineers have quietly been learning from each quake and designing newer earthquake-resistant building techniques and applying them in an ongoing effort to save San Francisco. BRACING FOR DISASTER is the first history of seismic engineering in San Francisco. In the language of a skilled teacher, Tobriner examines what really happened in the city's earthquakes—which buildings were damaged, which survived, and who were the unsung heroes—in a fresh appraisal of a city responding to repeated devastation. Filled with more than two hundred photographs, diagrams, and illustrations, BRACING FOR DISASTER is a revealing look at the history of buildings by a true expert, and it offers lessons not just for San Francisco but for any city beset by natural disasters.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597140256
Publisher:
Heyday Books
Publication date:
04/01/2006
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
7.96(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.77(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Tobriner is a Professor of Architectural History in the Architecture Department at the University of California Berkeley where he has taught for thirty-five years. He was trained as a scholar in Baroque and Mesoamerican architecture and cities at Harvard, where he published a significant paper on the planning of ancient Teotihuacan. He wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the planning and architecture of Noto, a small Sicilian city rebuilt after an earthquake in 1693. His book, The Genesis of Noto, an 18th Century Sicilian City (Zwemmer Press: London and U.C. Press: Berkeley) appeared in 1982 and was republished in Italian as La genesi di Noto, una citt... italiana del Settecento (Dedalo: Bari) in 1989. In the 1980s Tobriner became fascinated by the politics, psychology, sociology, and technology of earthquake-resistant engineering. He has written extensively on architecture and cities in Sicily and the history of reconstruction after earthquakes in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. He has lectured throughout the United States and Italy, and was a Visiting Professor at the University of Palermo. He has investigated damage in contemporary earthquakes around the world as a member of teams sponsored by the United Nations, the National Science Foundation, the Earthquake Engineering Research Center, and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

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