Structural engineering is imperative to the safety of a building before during and after the building’s completion. It is so important because the way a building is designed is imperative to how it will hold up in the event of a natural or man made disaster. Evacuation protocols and escape routes have to be designed and built into the structure to be effective in case of emergency, and can determine how or if a building will collapse when the structure is compromised.
In order to ensure that a building remains sound even under the most dire circumstances structural engineers begin with the core of the building’s design. Innovations in this area are evident in the sky high skyscrapers of today that are built around core structures made of reinforced concrete. The reinforced concrete serves as a barrier in the event of structural damage and allows any shifts in the weight distribution of the building to be absorbed by the reinforced concrete. This aspect of a building’s design makes it possible for a building to suffer a blow to its structure without collapsing or crumbling in on anyone who may be inside at the time and it does it by providing a strong alternative to the main structure should the main structure be compromised.
Another aspect of how structural engineering is used to ensure the safety of the structure from its inception is the addition to the design plans of emergency exit stairwells, sprinkler systems and other details that activate and provide the opportunity to safely evacuate in the event of an emergency. Structural breakthroughs and innovation have been developed in this area resulting in creative ways to get people out and emergency equipment and personnel in during the event of a disaster.
One example of this is evident in the design of skyscrapers that include extra wide stairways and chemical filtration systems that ensure air quality in the building stays good while people evacuate and others attempt to rescue. Another example of this is separate staircases designed in the structure of the building to allow emergency personnel access to the building without obstructing or being obstructed by those being evacuated. Some skyscrapers throughout the world also feature ‘lifeboat elevators’ or elevators with high speed and fireproof functions that would be able to operate efficiently in an emergency.