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Old August 2nd, 2006, 06:46 AM   #1
hkskyline
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China Strives to Ensure Earthquake Compliance for Skyscrapers

Minister reinforces quake awareness of skyscraper builders
Xinhua's China Economic Information Service

BEIJING, August 1 (CEIS) -- As competition continues for the highest building in China, Deputy Minister of Construction Huang Wei has warned architects and builders to be alert against the risks posed by earthquakes.

The steel or steel-reinforced concrete structures used in skyscrapers were still untested in earthquakes and their designs lacked full theoretical support, Huang told a meeting of experts on earthquake proofing for ultra-high buildings.

Huang's speech, carried on the ministry's website Tuesday, said more research was needed on quake-proof designs for ultra-high buildings, a term for buildings higher than 100 meters.

China's booming economy has sparked a competition between cities for the highest building in the country, in Asia or even the world, with records being constantly broken.

The latest competitors include Shanghai's global financial center, to stand 492 meters high on completion, and the new TV transmitter tower in Guangzhou, with a designed height of 600 meters.

A fact of concern is that most of these skyscrapers were located or would be located in areas vulnerable to strong earthquakes, Huang said.

China's national and provincial committees of experts had since 1998 reviewed the anti-quake designs of nearly 1,000 ultra-high buildings.

China remembered the Tangshan earthquake on its 30th anniversary last Friday. The quake claimed more than 240,000 lives, making it one of the worst in history.

Huang also expressed his concern over the increasing number of major buildings designed by foreign architects.

Many foreign architects came from regions where earthquakes were rare and lacked experience in quake-proof designs, he said.

More worrisome, Huang said, was that some buildings designed by foreign architects are very unusual in structure.

"Many unusually-designed buildings were seriously damaged in earthquakes in Japan and China's Taiwan. We need to be alert to this, " said Huang.

One such building he mentioned was the controversial new building for the China Central Television (CCTV), which uses a twisted structure, including a 13-story suspended section.

Ole Scheeren, the architect with the Swiss design company OMA, was not immediately available for comments. But he had previously denied more than once that his design was unsafe.

Safety was no longer an issue when 13 top experts in building structure approved the design in 2004, he was reported as saying.

The building is already under construction and is expected to be completed in 2007.

Huang said the risks facing Chinese architects was grave, as the Earth has begun a new period of quake activity in the late 20th century.

Since then, strong quakes had been recorded in Japan, Indonesia and Pakistan. In China, quakes had occurred in Yunnan, Xinjiang, Hebei, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and other regions, causing human and property losses.

The most recent quake occurred on July 4 in Wen'an County of Hebei Province, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale. The quake was felt in Beijing.
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