Taiwan Earthquake Reconnaissance, Day 4

Posted by Kevin Moore on February 20, 2016

The SGH Team (now just Andrew, Anindya, and Kevin) gathered for breakfast at the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Tainan (one of the best meals of the day, especially considering we are now on our own without local help/influence). Because of our lack of wheels, we determined that investigating local to the hotel might be the best use of our time. With that in mind, we left the hotel at approximately 10:30am local time and walked the city block to the National Cheng Kung University campus.

The campus is an eclectic collection of architectural wonderment. The eras seem to span 1930s colonial, through 1960s industrial/communist, to 1980s modern and millennial chic (my own coined architectural genre). The campus is flat, with well-kept landscape and open spaces in full use (it is Saturday here and families are everywhere enjoying a sunny day with a mild breeze). Some of the observed buildings were retrofit with an interesting steel braced frame (the original building is reinforced concrete), including one with a very unique connection between concrete and steel. The connection appears to be a reinforcing bar, with the exposed end of the bar “capped” with a coupler, similar to that observed in the collapsed Weikuan Jinlong apartment complex.

At the north side of campus lies a very large hospital complex. The buildings are massive, with incredible finishes and almost airport like architecture. Our brief self-guided tour revealed nothing in regards to damage or operational disruption attributable to the earthquake. We observed a small equipment area with typical mechanical equipment one might find at any hospital in the United States. The equipment was poorly anchored, but appeared unaffected by the recent ground motion. The hospital and adjacent medical office buildings appeared fully functional and quite busy for a Saturday.

Upon completion of our campus walking tour, we ventured to the West Central District (WCD) to visit the Confucian Temple. The temple site is the oldest in Taiwan as Tainan was once the capital of Taiwan and the religious center of the country. During our walk toward the temple, we observed minor damage at the Tainan Power Company (TPC) building in the WCD. The TPC appeared to be an eight-story reinforced concrete building, L-shaped in plan. The massive structure was roughly 180 ft long by 165 ft wide (with a rear courtyard created by the L-shape plan). Some spandrel and pier cracking was evident on the tile facade along the northern elevation. The cracking was consistent with movement in the east-west direction; a trend we notice with most building damage.

Residential building, Fuqian Road

Within a few blocks of the TPC, we noticed pier cracking in an eleven-story reinforced concrete residential structure. The building has an extended first story at the entrance along Fuqian Road, with the rest of the tower set back approximately 20 ft (maybe one bay of framing). The pier cracking appeared in the third, fourth, and fifth stories and in only one stacked pier. As the cracking was only evident in the exterior stone cladding, we are not certain about the presence of cracking in other piers at those levels. The damage is again indicative of shaking in the east-west direction.

We finally reached the Confucian Temple, which appeared to be a local attraction, similar to historic locations one might encounter in any country. The buildings were not historically authentic as we observed concrete beams instead of the original wood beams, concrete posts replaced original wood posts and metal hardware and cables were carefully placed in areas where high lateral forces might damage the structures. The general presentation was very nice and quite interesting. English signs even helped us learn a little Taiwanese/Confucian history.

We returned to our hotel, where we finished some of our last work efforts before striking out for our last night in Tainan. At Anindya’s suggestion we went to dinner at “The Long Trunk” a Thai/Curry place across the street from the NCKU campus (good food, good service).

Related Links:

Po-Chien Hsiao’s Biography

National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering

National Cheng Kung University

Earthquake Engineering Research Institute

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