Ian N. Robertson — Tireless Campaigner for Tsunami-Resistant Design
Ian N. Robertson
ENR 10/10/16 p. 8
Professor made crucial contributions to the campaign that resulted in the 2016 adoption of the world’s first standards for tsunami-resistant design.
As a leading member of the committee responsible for introducing a new subject into the American Society of Civil Engineers’ compendium of structural design reference standards, University of Hawaii Professor Ian Robertson has been instrumental in the campaign to provide guidance for designing critical facilities to withstand the enormous, complex forces of tsunamis. In 2016, that campaign achieved remarkably swift results with the adoption, after a six-year effort, of the world’s first standards for tsunami-resistant design.
The standards comprise Chapter 6 of the updated reference standard, ASCE 7-16, and will be incorporated into the International Code Council’s 2018 edition of its model building code. Already, the provisions are being employed for critical facilities design in tsunami-risk zones around the world.
“His contributions have been essential,” says engineer Gary Chock, president of Martin & Chock Inc., who was an ENR Newsmaker in 2012 for launching and leading the ASCE’s Tsunami Loads and Effects Committee, which began the process. Robertson was a founding member, and Chock says he contributed significant work to define the forces that form the core requirements of the tsunami design provisions.
Robertson was a chief collaborator on the committee’s extensive report on the performance of structures impacted by Japan’s 2011 Tohoku Tsunami; he also helped to perform the fieldwork and analysis of debris that delivered reams of validation for modeling tsunami forces. Robertson is praised for his comprehensive technical and editorial review of the new provisions throughout the commenting and balloting that led to adoption. Further, he was a key player in developing studies to demonstrate the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of applying the new requirements to buildings in tsunami hazard zones of five western U.S. states.
Chock says Robertson has provided outreach to the international engineering community through webinars, lectures and presentations at overseas conferences, including the 16th World Congress on Earthquake Engineering this month in Santiago, Chile. Now, he has been selected by the ASCE to write the book “Tsunami Loads and Effects: Guide to the Tsunami Design Provisions of ASCE 7-16.”