Researchers Test Precast Concrete Parking Structure

April 8, 2008
A research program improves industry standards for the design and construction of diaphragms used with precast/prestressed concrete
In April and May, researchers will simulate eight levels of seismic forces on a field model using the largest outdoor "shake table" in the world. The experiments are part of the Chicago-based Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute's (PCI's) 5-year, $2 million-plus research program to improve industry standards for the design and construction of diaphragms used with precast/prestressed concrete components.

The high-profile research program is being carried out by a consortium of three universities: University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ; Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA; and University of California in San Diego. The primary objective of the research is to better understand the behavior of precast concrete diaphragms, which have grown in importance since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in California. The massive temblor, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, caused significant damage to several precast concrete parking structures.

A half-scale, 3-story parking structure will be tested during April and May, using different levels of seismic forces to gauge structure responses. Once the tests are completed and the results are evaluated, the group will work toward providing data and supplementary information to allow the design approaches to be accepted into code documents.

To view the construction of the test structure and to see the testing in progress on May 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., go (

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