CLEANING UP AFTER THE QUAKES
No damage found at Oahu's high-rise construction sites
Modern building codes are designed for the impact of earthquakes
For most of Hawaii's construction workers, it was back to work as usual yesterday in the wake of Sunday morning's earthquakes.
Hawaii's largest high-rise residential towers under construction on Oahu appeared undamaged by the Big Island quakes, and will proceed on schedule.
"We did an inspection and so far, we found no damage," said Kathy Inouye, chief operating officer of the Kobayashi Group, one of the parties developing Capitol Place. "So far, it's back to business."
AFTER THE QUAKES
To make a building self-inspection, look for:
» Very large cracks, in an x or diagonal pattern;
» Fresh cracks;
» Evidence of lateral shifting;
» Displaced ceilings; or
» Cracks or glazing in windows
Source: Gary Chock, Martin & Chock
General contractor AC Kobayashi is working on the 10th floor of the 39-story tower near downtown Honolulu, which is expected to complete construction in the middle of 2008.
Across the street, construction workers at the Pinnacle Honolulu also were busy early yesterday. A structural expert checked the site after the Sunday temblors, and he determined that there were no problems, according to Paul Kyno, a partner of the development team.
"We're still ahead of schedule," said Kyno. "We're about 11 months away from finishing."
Workers were also back up in the air at high-rises under construction including A&B Properties' Keola Lai on Queen Street, Posec Hawaii's 909 Kapiolani at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue, and KC Rainbow Development's Moana Pacific on Kapiolani Boulevard.
At the twin oval towers of Moana Pacific, which were topped off about a month ago, crews went back to work yesterday after the general contractor and subcontractors did a visual inspection, according to Allen Leong, director of operations.
He said the west tower was still on track to open in January, and the east tower in March.
"The fact we also built for a hurricane means the towers are better able to tolerate earthquakes," he said.
For projects under construction, Steve Baldridge of structural engineering firm Baldridge & Associates said the biggest hazards would be the temporary shoring systems shaken out of place.
Cranes and the skeletal structures for most of the projects should have been designed to take the impact of the earthquakes.
The construction industry has had to comply with stricter building codes for more than a decade, according to Gary Chock, president of Martin & Chock and vice president of Structural Engineers Association of Hawaii.
After 1990, Oahu was upgraded from a seismic zone 1 to 2-A. The higher the number, the more seismic activity the buildings must be able to withstand. Generally, the numbers get smaller as one travels northwest in the Hawaiian islands. Kauai is still considered zone 1, while Maui is a zone 2-B and the Big Island a zone 4.
California is zoned 3 and 4, according to Chock.
Tall buildings, like the newly built residential towers Hokua and Koolani, also are designed to accept lateral sway, meaning they can absorb seismic forces from the ground.
Chock said he would be most concerned about buildings built before 1975, when building codes were more lenient. Varying factors include the size of the building, its structural design and the softness of the soil.
"For us, on Oahu, it was mostly an inconvenience," he said. "It was not the big one, in any respect. The ground motion we could have had under one of those events could have been much more severe."
A hurricane in Hawaii could potentially wreak much more havoc for building structures, according to Chock.
"The bottom line is everyone should be more concerned about hurricanes than earthquakes, regardless of whether you're in a high-rise, single-family home or any type of structure," he said.