Mexico's Torre Mayor Leads the Field in Earthquake Proof Construction
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Mexico's Torre Mayor Leads the Field in Earthquake Proof Construction

earthquake proof construction.Torre Mayor, Mexico City, earthquakezones, Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Istanbul, Pacific Ring Of Fire,

Earthquakes, unfortunately, are a way of life for many of the world's people. A destructive surge of nature, that man and his technology can do little to withhold.

It was Greek philosopher Aristotle during the 4th century who first realised that earthquakes were more than just the wrath of the Gods, something our long ago ancestors believed were the cause of them.

Earthquakes continued to ravage certain parts of the planet for centuries before man really began to get a hold on what was actually causing them.

It wasn't until after the devastating 1906 earthquake in San Francisco that scientists began to study in depth what had caused such devastation within the city.

Nine scientists were sent to study the aftermath of the quake zone, only then, instigating the birth of seismology.

It was something as simple as the misalignment of fences surrounding farm fields that got scientists to realise, that the earth beneath them was actually being ripped apart by some cataclysmic underground force.

It would take another sixty years before these underground forces and the tectonic zones and fault lines that caused them were mapped and charted.

Like many scientific discoveries, this was found out quite by accident, by way of the American military using tracking devices to record the velocity of blasts at Russian nuclear bomb sites during the Cold War.

Because of this military exercise, scientists now had a complete map of the world's tectonic zones and plates.

Another fact that scientists were becoming aware of, was that earthquakes in themselves don't actually kill, as history has repeatedly informed us, the casualties of earthquakes are those killed and maimed by the buildings in which they were in or near, that actually caused the most casualties.

Today with the advent of seismology, we are all much more informed as to how and why this devastating phenomena happens, we can even track where certain earthquakes will happen next, although we can not predict, as yet, when.

The only thing left for man, is to work with them, by building much more seismically secure buildings.

In places such as California and Japan two of the world's most seismically active areas, structural engineers and building contractors have strived to build the perfect anti - earthquake buildings.

This great feat of structural engineering was finally realised in Mexico City in 2003, after the completion of the 55 storey, 225 metre high (740 feet), Torre Mayor, situated on a former lake bed that had taken the brunt of the damage during the city's 8.1 magnitude quake on the 19th of September 1985.

Mexico City / Pixabay

A quake which had actually began life 350 kilometres away in the-pacific-ocean in an area known as The Pacific Ring of Fire.                                   

Mexico City is located in an area known as the Valley of Mexico, a highland plateau surrounded by mountains and volcanoes.

The city, like so many newly constructed settlements, was built next to water, a system of now ancient lakes, the largest of which, was Lake Texcoco, which had a further five inter connecting lakes in it's vicinity.

In the 1600's during the Spanish occupation of the country, the city suffered a series of devastating floods, one of which lasted for over five years.

Rather than move the city to safer ground, the Spanish authorities, decided to drain the lakes by way of channels and a tunnel, diverting the water to the nearby River Panuco, an incredible engineering feat in it's own right, in that day and age.

As the years went by, the city grew, with many of its buildings being constructed upon the beds of these former lakes.

Although the city planners at that time did not know it, they were actually building their city on what was very unstable ground, on already highly active seismic and volcanic terrain.

Although there were no more lakes, the underground springs which had first fed the lakes, still remained, leaving the sub structure of the ground below the area dangerously damp and soft.

By the time structural engineers were savvy enough to understand what had happened all those years ago and the complications it would induce, it was too late, Mexico City was a sprawling metropolis with a population of over six million people. (8.7 million in 2010) 

After the devastating quake of 1985, which claimed the lives of over 10,000 people and completely destroyed the city's infrastructure, the people left with the job of rebuilding the city, decided to construct a building that would withstand anything a further quake could throw at it.

Deciding to build on the bed of the former Lake Texcoco, the most unstable area of the whole city and most devastated post quake area, would give architects and engineers even more challenges to overcome.

The building was developed by Canadian businesman Paul Reichmann, who employed architects from Toronto based Zeidler and Roberts Partnership and Adamson Associates, with structural engineering company Martinez - Romero of Mexico City.

Located at Paseo de la Reforma 505, work commenced in 1999 and completed in 2003 at a cost of £ 200 million.

The building had been designed according to the most stringent seismic requirements with several anti - earthquake measures put in place to make it the most earthquake proof building in the world, able to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 8.5 and winds of over 160 miles an hour. 


                              TORRE MAYOR.

One thousand seven hundred construction workers took four years to construct the 47,000 cubic metres of concrete and 21,000 tons of steel over the 251, fifty metre deep pilings at its foundations.

Ninety eight state of the art, diamond shaped dampers were used to take the strain within the building, designed and die forged by Scot Forge of Illinois, U.S.A. The largest of these dampers being six feet long by 24 inches across, resembling shock absorbers on a car, and being almost as large as one. 



 Buildings such as the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, the TransAmerica Pyramid in San Francisco,the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the largest building of all, the Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, have all heralded advanced seismic proof construction methods in past years, all of which are located in areas of regular seismic activity. 

Since 2003 and the advent of Torre Mayor, several more earthquake proof buildings are now under construction using Torre Mayor's innovative building techniques, heralding a new age in seismically safe engineering.

Until man can find a way of quelling the earthquake beast within our earth's crust, he has no choice but to meet it head on with ever more technological advances in building design and construction in order to keep the inhabitants of these earthquake zones around the world, safe and secure, both in their workplaces and in their homes. 






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Comments (5)

Great discussion DeeBee. This is an excellent insight into an important aspect of architecture and engineering.

Excellent article

this can only be a good thing for the big cities but I hope something similar can be done for the smaller communities. Great article.

My thoughts exactly Lisa, like most developers, these unique ideas will only be used where there are large communities and people with money.

Splendid write, a major awareness on a major natural disaster.