Would the glass in your office have survived the California Northridge Earthquake?

That’s what scientists at the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) TallWood  explored during the spring of 2023. Investigators from multiple universities studied the resilience of tall timber buildings by simulating a series of large earthquakes on a full-scale, 10-story mass timber building – the world’s tallest full-scale building ever tested on an earthquake simulator or shake table. 

To test the survivability of non-structural elements, WINCO Window Company was selected to supply commercial aluminum windows for the project, along with two other fenestration companies.  WINCO provided standard glass and glazing methods to determine how an ordinary building might perform under a severe earthquake.   In collaboration with the test’s Principal Investigators (PI), WINCO’s engineers studied the space between the frame interior and the glass edge, as well as the clearance(s) between the window unit and the trim and/or wall provide the required ASCE7 clearances for movement and deformation without contacting and thus breaking the glass.  Six different configurations were put to the test – which simulated powerful earthquakes ranging from 4 to 8 on the Richter Scale. 

And the results?   All good!  After having endured more than 100 shake tests over the course of four weeks, all WINCO windows remained functional, no glass breakage was observed, and all operable vents functioned (locked / unlocked) without excessive operating force.   Those results should give architects’ peace of mind when designing structures in earthquake zones.  

Here’s what some of the industry media reports said: