University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) engineers are lending their expertise for the trial of an innovative form of concrete that provides an easier solution to earthquake resistance. Construction is underway at the Lincoln Square Expansion in Seattle. The 1.5 million square foot mixed-use development will house a hotel and luxury condos, as well as retail, office and dining facilities.

Key to the success of the high-rise project will be its ability to resist the seismic impacts that so frequently plague the Pacific northwest. In order to shore up the ability of the towers to weather any earthquake shocks, the engineers are using their new fiber-reinforced concrete for all of the coupling beams that span the myriad doorways and windows throughout the multi-story development.

The UWM professor of civil and environmental engineering Gustavo Parra-Montesinos suggested incorporating steel fibers into the concrete mix as opposed to rebar. This produces beams which have a seismic performance commensurate with or better than those of rebar-based coupling beams, yet it takes less time and hassle to produce and install them.

According to Kopczynski, the adoption of fiber-concrete coupling beams for the Lincoln Square Expansion is significantly streamlining the construction process for the project.

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