In August of 2019, I traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand, a little more than seven years after David Swanson, Reid Middleton’s Executive Vice President, spent some time in Christchurch on an earthquake response trip. My time in New Zealand started in Auckland, as I was awarded the opportunity to act as a delegate of the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) at the Structural Engineering Society New Zealand (SESOC) Conference. Prior to the conference, I was not able to fully understand the conference theme of “challenging the profession.” After two and a half days of attending the conference, I understood what the theme means to the structural engineering community in New Zealand. After leaving the conference, the message that stuck so vividly in my mind was focused around the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, as well as the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, in several of the presentations. The prevalence of these earthquakes and the impact that they have had on the structural engineering community in New Zealand is still very much in the forefront of structural engineering discussions. This was a great way to head into my trip to Christchurch.
Far Away but Close to Home
When the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes occurred, I was a graduate structural engineering student at the University of California, San Diego. When the larger of the two occurred, I was enrolled in an advanced seismic design class and I followed the aftermath of the earthquakes in the ensuing years. However, somehow this didn’t quite prepare me for the trip to Christchurch. When I arrived in Christchurch, a fellow student from my UCSD program who now lives there took me on a tour of the city. I was shocked to see that dozens of buildings are still being shored up and are awaiting repair almost eight years after the earthquakes. I was surprised that even while listening to the morning news at my hotel, conversations among the anchors were still focused on the effects of the earthquakes. This all hit even closer to home as our Reid Middleton team spent July 2019 through October 2019 on site in Ridgecrest, California following the July 4th and 5th Searles Valley earthquakes. Seeing the impact the devastation still has on Christchurch, and being in the thick of earthquake response work at home in California, made everything very meaningful to me.
Then & Now
In touring the city, I was able to see several buildings and locations that Dave Swanson had visited during his reconnaissance trip. Below are pictures comparing buildings within the city from 2011 to 2019.
What questions do you have for me or our other seismic engineers?