Ross Stein’s NPR interview: Buildings as “pre-existing conditions”

By David Jacobson and Volkan Sevilgen, Temblor

Check your seismic hazard rank

A multi-use building by the celebrated Colombian architect, Simón Vélez, in the earthquake-prone Andes is seismically strong, made exclusively of local materials, and gorgeous. (Photo by: Ross Stein)


Last week, Temblor CEO and cofounder Ross Stein was interviewed on National Public Radio’s “The Pulse.” The episode focuses on the consequences of pre-existing conditions, and in the context of earthquakes, buildings and homes are the pre-existing conditions that dramatically affect outcomes. Stein argued that making buildings essentially out of “stacks of cubes,” and often very tall stacks, is the worst possible design for seismic safety. We may be able to pack a lot of people in to them, but they are much weaker than geodesic domes, sailboat hulls, or suspension bridges.

The shape of the Bay Bridge, which is similar to a sailboat, makes it more resistant to earthquake shaking. This is because it is composed of curves, and triangles. (Photo by: Sabrina Sevilgen)


In the interview, Stein was quick to point out that retrofitting homes and buildings improves the structure’s resilience, and diagonal shear bracing is on display all around downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles. Additionally, in wooden homes, retrofitting can be a cost-effective way of protecting both your family and investment. So, you can make your home and work place safer.

This photo shows diagonal Taylor braces for a commercial building in Sacramento. (Photo by: Ross Stein)


To listen to Stein’s 5-minute segment of the “The Pulse,” click the video below. The full podcast is available here