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Create Separation Joints Between Structures

Sometimes different structures are combined within (or immediately adjacent to) one building. For example, a tall, unreinforced masonry structure may be combined with a low-rise, modern, steel-framed addition. These two structures will behave very differently in an earthquake, which can lead to the transfer of damaging impact forces between the two structures and cause either damage or collapse. 

Separation joints allow each structure to behave independently and avoid impacts from the other structure. Exterior joints between the two structures should be filled with elastic materials and then weatherproofed. All separation joints should be wide enough to accommodate differences in lateral movement between the two structures. 

Effectiveness:

  • Very effective at the site of the separation joints.

Limitations:

  • Difficult for shared joists and columns.
  • The seismic strength of the structures is not increased by the separation joints.

 

 

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Randolph Langenbach

M-Arch (Harvard), Dipl.Conservation (York, England)


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