R. Dean Randalls, Architect    ARCHITETT.com



Disaster Mitigation – Tornados, Earthquakes & Sinkholes

Just months after a tornado destroyed my own neighborhood,  an F3 tornado ripped through downtown Clarksville and the APSU campus,  where I was administering 35 million dollars in new construction.  The tornado ripped across the campus as concrete crews were already on site pouring structural concrete slabs.  Within minutes, 15 projects became nearly 150.                                                     

Ten years earlier, while working on the architectural design of a local school in the Bay Area,  I had the unexpected challenge to mitigate recovery following the Loma Prieta earthquake in central California.  As seen by a few images from the USGS website, the quake damaged not only buildings, but major freeways. The Nimitz freeway in Oakland completely collapsed as seen below, and the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco was badly damaged.    To learn more about the quake, visit USGS for more information.  Click Here Now

Urgent architectural knowledge may be needed at any time, particularly in time of crisis.  I have now had several unexpected opportunities to mitigate disaster, even at home.   In 1998,  an F1 tornado ripped through my neighborhood, destroying homes, schools, churches, and more.  Little did I know that a second one would soon follow ….


Only a few years ago did San Francisco finally remove the last of the Embarcadero Freeway.   As an urban designer, I must note that the removal of the Embarcadero was the best planning move by the city in years.   When it was originally erected, the effect of the structure was to cut downtown off from the bay.  It created a pedestrian barrier to one of the cities greatest planning assets: the waterfront.  Admittedly, though,  the freeway did reduce commute times through the city. 


Often following both earthquakes and tornados, sinkholes become major issues.  At APSU, major sinkholes developed unexpectedly due to monsoon-like rains that followed the tornado.  And if you’ve ever remediated a sinkhole, you know that capping one may lead to the collapse of another.  Sinkhole remediation was certainly not an architectural function, but was a function of campus construction administration, and thus part of the job.                                         

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