Seismic Code Provisions
Building codes constitute an essential tool for the design of structures. They comprise a set of legal requirements for a particular geographical area or political jurisdiction to regulate and control the design, construction, quality of materials, use and occupancy, location and maintenance of buildings and other structures, and provide minimum standards to safeguard life or limb, health, property, and public welfare. Building codes have existed for thousands of years. The earliest known legal requirement for the construction of buildings is the code decreed by Hammurabi, the king of Babylon, in the eighteenth century BC. Although not a building code in the modern sense, it served to stipulate the penalties to builders of unsafe constructions:
Seismic codes, however, have been in existence for only a relatively short time (see a historical account in Section 1.6), mainly because an understanding of earthquakes and their effect on structures has come about only during the past few decades. Currently, seismic codes are the main mechanism through which past experience and current knowledge about earthquake characteristics and structural performance is synthesized and disseminated. They provide designers with rules and guidelines for the construction of structures that will have the strength and resilience to resist adequately any earthquake that might affect them during their intended useful life.