David Rosowsky destroys buildings in order to make them better.
OSU professor David Rosowsky would like homes to be built so they not only protect lives during a hurricane or an earthquake but also avoid massive repair and reconstruction costs.
In order to accomplish that, he has used huge vacuums to suck the sheathing off roofs and fired 2x4s through walls with an air cannon made out of a beer keg. To see whether a structure could resist the impact of a tree falling on it, he and colleagues created an experiment smashing a massive steel pipe into a house.
Rosowsky, holder of the endowed Richardson Chair in Wood Engineering, and other structural engineers at Oregon State are bringing hurricane force winds and violent earthquakes right into the laboratory to help re-evaluate construction concepts that have been accepted for decades.
“Current U.S. building codes are minimum standards designed to protect life and safety,” Rosowsky says. But in a world full of expensive houses that lie in the path of hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes those minimal standards are inadequate to contain the enormous costs associated with structural damage, even if they may be effective at reducing loss of life.
Rosowsky’s goal is to make the Department of Wood Science and Engineering at Oregon State into the nation’s leading research program in structural reliability and performance-based design of wood structures. Along the way, he may have to smash and destroy a few more buildings. But he seems up to the task.