Are our buildings ready for the Big One?
(The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Is the Philippines, specifically Metro Manila, earthquake-ready? This question has plagued the minds of Filipinos in the last few years. The increasing awareness of earthquakes happening across the country and the globe was mainly due to the recently published Valley Fault System Atlas led by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, with funding from the Australian Aid and the United Nations Development Program.

According to this report, two faults intersect with the major cities of Metro Manila. The West Valley Fault traverses the cities of Marikina, Quezon, Pasig, Taguig, Makati, Mandaluyong, and Muntinlupa. The other, the Manila Trench, is an underwater fault that lies off the coast of Manila Bay.

As greater areas of Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces continue to become more urbanized with developers continuing to build even higher structures, and as a larger population and increasing land prices force people to live in apartment buildings rather than houses, the question of building safety when calamities strike becomes ever more relevant.

Amid this scare, developer Daiichi Properties, one of the country’s most notable real estate developers, has revealed one of the most important elements in its construction process: seismic-testing.

“Performance-based testing,” according to Eric Manuel, vice president for business development at Daiichi Properties, “is done by utilizing computer simulation models that reflect the various inputs and components in the design of a building, to measure its optimal efficiency.”

In doing so, the models measure the structural integrity of the building’s shape and design, and the final output will be determined by how well its performance was during the simulation.

This performance-based seismic design (PBSD), a new methodology pioneered by the Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) – an international award-winning structural and civil engineering firm, allows the design team to determine the appropriate levels of ground motion and performance objectives for the building and non-structural components, so it meets and, in most instances, exceeds the Building Code. This system has greatly transformed the structural design of tall buildings in regions of high seismicity.

“Through the application of sophisticated analytical methods, Daiichi’s partner structural engineers are able to more reliably and directly predict building response during a maximum ground-shaking event,” emphasizes architect Reynaldo Fuentez, vice president for the project management group. “Our buildings’ designs are then tuned and optimized to respond in the most efficient way possible.”

One World Place in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), a 32-story, grade-A office building that has already achieved above-standard structural performance and reliability, is among Daiichi’s award-winning structures. It partnered with AIT Consulting to evaluate the building’s structure, using their performance-based evaluation, with special emphasis on the effects of earthquakes and wind.

World Plaza, another of Daiichi’s projects, won an award for Best Office Development Philippines at this year’s Asia Pacific Property Awards, achieving above-standard structural performance and reliability in performance-based seismic and wind evaluations. MKA, and Sy^2 and Associates, one of the leading structural engineering companies in the Philippines, conducted the tests.

But among Daiichi’s projects, The Finance Centre is by far the tallest, with its 42-story structure amid BGC’s other towering office buildings. It retained the services of Thorton Tomasetti, a New York-based structural engineering consulting firm, which provided structural engineering services using performance-based design principles. Like other developments by Daiichi, The Finance Centre achieved above-standard structural performance and reliability in its tests.

Apart from performance-based tests that cover seismic resilience, Daiichi also includes another aspect to its structural evaluation efforts: structural resilience to wind. In a country visited by at least 20 typhoons annually, wind resilience is particularly critical, especially to high-rise buildings that require higher wind resistance than smaller structures.

Manuel shares, “Performance-based testing is not just about seeing how our buildings tolerate seismic activity. Here in the Philippines, as urbanization leads to taller and denser buildings, we should all be concerned with how a building performs under strong wind speeds. The security and safety of our tenants is of paramount concern.”

Even before the recent earthquake scare, Daiichi Properties had already foreseen the importance of innovating and designing developments that are naturally resistant to both earthquakes and strong typhoons. These, alongside other projects that use PBSD in designing and developing infrastructures throughout the Metro, are what will continue to stand strong when the Big One does decide to arrive.

For more information, visit the Daiichi website at

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