VSB seismic project wins top engineering award

A project to make a VSB elementary school seismically safe has won the Lieutenant Governor's Award of Excellence at the 2017 Awards for Engineering Excellence.

Strathcona Elementary is the first building in Canada to use seismic base isolation to minimize the impact of an earthquake. Base isolation connects the building foundations to the main building structure with specially engineered rubber buffers. The rubber allows the building to move sideways up to 25cm in any direction during an earthquake, dampening the energy of the seismic waves.

The school, which was built in 1897, has significant heritage value and this method allows the building to be seismically upgraded without harming its historic appearance. 

"It's great to be at the forefront of seismic technology," said project manager Noel McNally. "This technique has allowed us to engineer the building so it retains its historic features and meets the highest seismic building standards."

In addition to winning the Lieutenant Governor's award - the top prize in all engineering categories - at the Annual Awards for Engineering Excellency, the Strathcona project also won first place in the building category. The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia bestowed the honours on Ausenco Engineering Canada, which worked on the project with staff in the Vancouver Project Office, the VSB department dedicated to the seismic upgrading of the district's schools.

"We're delighted that the cutting edge work of the Vancouver Project Office and Ausenco Engineering has been recognized with these two major engineering awards," said Janson Ho, director of the Vancouver Project Office. "We will continue working hard to mitigate the seismic risk to students and teachers at all Vancouver schools." 

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