James R. Harris

Principal, J.R. Harris & Company

The Evolution of Building Design to Resist Earthquakes

Friday, February 21, 2014– 4:30 pm

Location: Sinclair Lab Auditorium, Lehigh University, 7 Asa Drive, Bethlehem, PA

James R. Harris, Principal, J.R. Harris & Company, Denver, CO: Jim Harris is well versed in structural engineering practice and research. His work experience includes consulting practice in Denver since 1968 and continued with the establishment of J.R. Harris & Company in 1984. From 1975-1981 he was a research structural engineer at the National Bureau of Standards in Gaithersburg, MD. He has designed or evaluated thousands of structures ranging from dwellings, to high-rise buildings, industrial facilities, and renovations of historic buildings to name a few. His research has focused on the loading and response of structures, particularly earthquake and snow loadings, with a second focus on improving the formulation and use of engineering standards. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and an active member of several committees that produce national standards for structural engineering practice and is a former chair of the committee that produces the standard ASCE/SEI 7 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, and its subcommittee for seismic design. He has also served on ACI Committee 318 which prepares Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and on the AISC Committees that prepare the Specification for Structural Steel Buildings and the Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings. Jim received his BSCE from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1968 and his MSCE and PhD from the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1975 and 1980, respectively. 

The Evolution of Building Design to Resist Earthquakes: Much of the history of the development of design approaches and building code provisions for seismic resistance in the United States is in direct response to damaging earthquakes. The early work was largely empirical. The fundamentals of an analytical mechanics approach were created in the middle of the 20th century, and over the past half century there has been a considerable amount of theoretical development and laboratory validation. The economic and social impact of large earthquakes is very consequential, and the technical aspects of the problem are challenging. Modern computing power coupled with new analytical techniques and better characterization of the demand from ground shaking are making possible much more realistic approaches to achieving the desired performance in future earthquakes.

The Dendrite and Graphite of a Grey Cast Iron Structure