FEMA E-74 Chapter 5.4 Responsibility & Project Management

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5.4 Responsibility and Project Management

Who is responsible for ensuring that nonstructural components are protected from earthquake damage and that design solutions are consistent with the chosen performance objectives? Who is responsible for the design of which types of components? Who provides oversight for the design of the many, potentially interconnected nonstructural items? Who resolves conflicts in cases where different design solutions in different disciplines are incompatible? Who provides oversight for the installation, and inspection for all of the nonstructural items?

Architects, mechanical, electrical and civil or structural engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, construction managers, contractors, specialty subcontractors, equipment manufacturers, vendors, inspectors, testing agencies, plan reviewers, developers, owners, tenants—all these parties may be involved. Coordination of this effort is not a trivial task; the issue of nonstructural seismic risk reduction must be part of the initial planning, so that decisions regarding the structural system, the architectural finishes, the MEP systems, the landscaping immediately adjacent to the building, and the equipment purchases are all made in accordance with a unified plan that is consistent with the performance goals and the project objectives. It may be advisable to assign a dedicated design professional to the oversight of the design and installation of the nonstructural items.

Questions such as the following must be addressed from the beginning:

  • Would a seismically isolated building provide the best and most reliable option for protecting the costly equipment in this facility and allow for continued operations?
  • Would a stiff structural system or a flexible structural system be more compatible with the performance objectives for the nonstructural items? Can this structural system be adapted for the architectural design? Can the architectural design be adapted to a more appropriate structural design?
  • If the structural system is flexible, will the architect specify flexible finishes and avoid the use of adhered veneers, marble panels, stucco soffits or other items likely to be damaged by inter-story drift?
  • If the architect specifies exterior adhered veneer, can the landscape architect provide a wide planting strip around the building perimeter to protect against falling hazards? Will the architect be willing to specify something other than the adhered veneer above exits?
  • For facilities that need to provide certification for specified MEP equipment, is certified equipment already available that is appropriate for the facility, or will money need to be budgeted for detailed analysis or shake table testing?
  • At what point in the design process will information be available from the structural engineer regarding the behavior of the structural frame, such as inter-story drifts and other information required for the nonstructural design?
  • Since lateral forces are higher on the roof, what MEP items are required to be located at the roof level and what items can be relocated lower in the building?
  • Are there architectural finishes available that would facilitate the inspection of earthquake damage? Can hatches, openings, or removable panels be provided that would make it easier to inspect structural framing, precast panel connections, piping, or ducts after an earthquake and thus, get occupants back into the building sooner?

Technical Sidebar

Potential Issues for Specialized Facilities

The following are additional considerations for highly specialized or essential facilities:
  • For facilities that depend on unique or specialized equipment that would take a long lead time to replace, is there a way to incorporate a secondary or backup system into the design that would reduce potential outages if the equipment were damaged? Would higher design forces or base-isolation reduce the equipment damage? Is there a need to provide budget and space to stock spare parts or spare equipment?
  • For facilities that must remain operational following an earthquake, does the design incorporate elements that would be needed in the event of a catastrophe with lengthy infrastructure outages? The hospital that fared the best following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans had the following elements in place prior to the hurricane: reserve tanks with water to flush toilets, diesel fuel to run the emergency generators, and gasoline for company vehicles.
  • The following questions should also be considered: Would space be needed to provide temporary accommodations for employees? Would a forklift, a backhoe, or other construction supplies and equipment for emergency repairs, backup communications equipment such as hand radios, emergency food supplies, and a designated place for sanitary and waste disposal be needed?

5.4.1 Example—Responsibility Matrix

New construction projects typically involve the coordination of numerous parties with overlapping responsibilities and competing or conflicting interests; adding a comprehensive program to brace and anchor nonstructural components and contents makes a new construction project even more complex. Assigning clear responsibility for each nonstructural component and tracking the design, peer review, plan review, installation, observation, and special inspection is very important.

Table 4.4.1-1 shows an example of a responsibility matrix that could be readily adapted by listing the nonstructural components for a particular project. This sample format can be used to track who is responsible for design, design review, installation, and observation. If peer review or special inspection is required, these could be added to the table. More comprehensive responsibility matrices, developed for each Seismic Design Category and compliance with ASCE/SEI 7-10, are provided in Appendix B. These matrices are intended to serve as templates for use by project managers in assigning and tracking design, construction and inspection responsibilities. They can be used in conjunction with the specification provided in Appendix A and are intended to serve as a roadmap for implementation. Successful use of these tools starts with development of a comprehensive project-specific list of nonstructural components to be addressed.

5.4.2 Example: Seismic Code Block, Saint Louis County, Missouri

When the 2003 International Building Code (ICC, 2003) was adopted in Saint Louis County, Missouri, enforcement of the seismic requirements for nonstructural components was complicated by varying interpretations by design professionals, code compliance plan reviewers, contractors and building inspectors. In response, the County established rules and regulations intended to provide a common set of standards for compliance with the Building Code. A cornerstone of the rules and regulations that were adopted is the requirement for a "Seismic Code Block" on the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing drawings (Figures 5.4.2-1 and 5.4.2-2). The seismic code block requires that the engineer(s) responsible for the design of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems identify the location of the details for anchorage and sway bracing of equipment and system components on the plans, or indicate that they will be furnished by subsequent submission, which will be reviewed by the engineer responsible for the design. Saint Louis County requires accountability for the design and documentation of nonstructural bracing requirements. Installation and building inspection is facilitated by the availability of project-specific bracing details. Use of the Seismic Code Block on all projects could significantly enhance the enforcement of code requirements for seismic bracing of nonstructural components and systems. The Saint Louis County model is expected to serve as a model for other jurisdictions throughout the country.

Image of the Seismic Code Block for mechanical and plumbing plans in use in St. Louis County, Missouri.
Figure 5.4.2-1 Seismic Code Block worksheet.

Image of the Seismic Code Block for mechanical and plumbing plans in use in St. Louis County, Missouri.
Figure 5.4.2-2 Seismic Code Block worksheet.

The code block above, adopted in 2006, only addresses MEP components that are explicitly covered on the construction documents. Nevertheless, it provides a model for keeping track of these items. The project architect or design professional responsible for the general oversight of the nonstructural protective measures could expand this table to cover the various architectural, FF&E, and content items that are within the control of the original design team and use this as a tool for tracking the design and plan review for these items. Revised May 2010, the St. Louis County Rules and Regulations include requirements for architectural and MEP components and provide a standardized form to be used to track construction inspections (see Public Notices). This document includes examples of forms filled out as intended, with each equipment item provided a separate line item in the code block. As with any tool, the seismic code block is only effective if the design team provides a complete list of the relevant items covered by the code provisions.

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Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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