Below, Above and Beyond

Steve Watts
alinea Consulting, London

The achievements of Mexican engineering 50 years ago are satisfactory, the current challenges are defiant, and the 50-year objectives are ambitious. Nature hazards such as large-scale earthquakes, hurricanes, low-resistance soils and, more recently, sustainable developments, alongside the always increasing architectural complexity of the projects are challenging engineers to implement new technologies and methods in the design and construction processes.

Engineers use a variety of techniques to control the response buildings have against hazardous conditions, breathtaking heights and dimensions and unusual shapes. In this article a remembrance of the main construction and structural design techniques that have allowed Mexican engineering to: "Below" build a record breaking foundation of 75 meters deep and a 33 meters deep basement in soft soils with low resistance; "Above" design and build high-rise buildings of up to 57 levels tall that are also earthquake and wind resistant, for this, different types of energy dissipation techniques had to be implemented, from energy dissipation devices to strategic design of structural elements that are predisposed to dissipate energy through controlled damage; and "Beyond" state-of-the-art design procedures like capacity-based-designs, performance based designs, damping systems, specialized seismic risk analysis, combined lateral systems, and even a specialized design procedure for foundations that required to move and relocate a historical house, have been applied to overcome some of the greater challenges encountered throughout the history of Mexican engineering.

In addition, an overview of the expected challenges to overcome in the future, viewed from a technical and structural point of view will be discussed in the presentation.

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