The History of Building Codes and Construction Essay

2117 Words Sep 19th, 2012 9 Pages
The History of Building Codes, Construction, and the Aftermath of September 11
Jhimelle I. Sepulveda
Columbia Southern University

There have been many catastrophic incidents involving fire throughout history with countless of lives lost and billions of dollars’ worth of damages. The lessons learned from these incidents have led to changes in the way we plan and how we build high-rise structures. These changes evolve into codes and building standards with people’s safety in mind. Early building construction laws were enacted to prevent building collapses as early as the Roman Empire. Laws were passed that limited the height of buildings, first to 70ft and then to 60ft. Later in history, laws were passed to prevent
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Years after the fire, the city became conscious about pre-fire planning and they established new building codes. (The University of Chicago Library, 2009)
In early 1906, San Francisco’s downtown area consisted of some steel and concrete buildings but most of the city’s construction consisted of wood. On an April morning, the city experienced a massive earthquake that destroyed 28,000 buildings of which 24, 678 were wood structures and killing 3000 people. There were 3,168 brick buildings lost. (US Department of the Interior, 2011) The fires that burned for the next four days and nights caused the majority of damage. The earthquake damaged much of the water mains and firefighters did not have many resources to fight the fires. (Schussler, 1906)
People were setting their houses on fire due to insurance companies not paying them for damaged caused by the earthquake but paying for damages caused by the fires. (Wildman, 1906). Not surprisingly, the earthquake and subsequent fires lead to changes in building codes. New constructions would have to be built with reinforced concrete, which politicians had previously blocked. Buildings would have to be steel framed and able to withstand lateral wind forces of 30 pounds per square foot. That number would later be reduced to 15 pounds per square foot in 1920. (University at Buffalo, 2008)
“The destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001

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