Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering: from the Cradle to Adulthood and Beyond

The 17th Mallet-Milne Lecture

Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering: from the Cradle to Adulthood and Beyond


The cradle for performance-based earthquake engineering was work in the 1970s by the late Professor Sozen and his co-workers on displacement-based seismic design. Infancy followed the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California with applied research and development undertaken by the Applied Technology Council and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The ATC-33 project developed technical guidelines for the seismic rehabilitation of buildings, which were published as FEMA 273/274 in 1997, the ASCE pre-standard FEMA 356 in 2000, and an ASCE Standard in 2006 (ASCE 41). These first generation tools for performance-based earthquake engineering introduced the profession to seismic performance levels, nonlinear component models, nonlinear static analysis, and deformation-based acceptance criteria at the component level. The writers of FEMA 273/274 knew of the shortcomings of these first generation tools, which included the use of discrete performance levels and defining system-level performance using component-based acceptance criteria. FEMA then funded the Applied Technology Council to develop second-generation tools for performance-based earthquake engineering (i.e., adulthood), starting in late 2000 and ending in late 2012: the ATC-58 project. These second-generation tools, which utilized seminal studies at the NSF-funded PEER Center at Berkeley, moved beyond engineering descriptions of damage to talk the language of owners, regulators and insurers, which became affectionately known as deaths, dollars and downtime. Nonlinear dynamic analysis replaced nonlinear static analysis and performance was judged at the system level. Where do we go from here? Private sector software developments, performance simulations in the cloud, and performance-based engineering for other hazards, with work on wind, fire, floods, and blast.

About the speaker

Andrew Whittaker Andrew Whittaker is a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo. Whittaker serves as the Director of MCEER, the Institute of Bridge Engineering, and the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory at the University. He is a registered civil and structural engineer in the State of California. Whittaker served as the Vice-President and President of the Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering ( from 2003 to 2011, and on the Board of Directors of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute ( and the World Seismic Safety Initiative from 2008 to 2010, and on the Advisory Board for the Southern California Earthquake Center from 2010 to 2017. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology and International Laboratory for Earthquake Engineering, which is headquartered at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Whittaker made significant contributions to the first generation of tools for performance based earthquake engineering (FEMA 273/274, 1992-1997) and led the structural engineering team that developed the second generation of these tools (FEMA P58, 2000-2013). Whittaker serves on a number of national committees including ASCE 4, ASCE 7, ASCE 43, and ASCE 59, and ACI 349. He is Chair of the ASCE Nuclear Standards Committee. His research interests are broad and include earthquake and blast engineering of buildings, long-span bridges and nuclear structures. The US National Science Foundation, US Department of Energy, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, US Federal Highway Administration, and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission fund his research. He consults to federal agencies, regulators, consultancies, contractors, and utilities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.

Event Details

Event Date 29/05/2019 6:00 pm
Institution of Civil Engineers
1 Great George Street Westminster, London SW1P 3AA United Kingdom
Institution of Civil Engineers

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