With the start of the hurricane season and the current upswing in new home construction across the nation, it’s never too late to think now about research-proven building and roof designs for regions susceptible to hurricane force winds. NJIT’s Rima Taher is a civil and structural engineer, with an expertise in the design of low-rise buildings to withstand extreme winds and hurricanes. She is available for interviews to discuss simple, inexpensive and life-saving construction measures to incorporate into new or remodeled residential or commercial buildings, including schools and government facilities.“Certain home shapes and roof types can make a big difference,” she says.
For high wind areas, her recommendations include the following.
Aim for strong connections between the roof elements and the walls, as well as between the structure and the foundation. Walls must also connect to each other firmly. Structural failure-- one structural element triggering the collapse of another-- can be progressive.
A roof with multiple slopes such as a hip roof with four slopes performs better than gable roofs with only two slopes. Research shows that the best roof slope is about 30 degrees.
Roof overhangs are subject to wind uplift forces which could trigger a roof failure. In the design of the hurricane-resistant home, the length of these overhangs should be limited to no more than 20 inches.
Taher http://www.njit.edu/news/experts/taher.php, a university lecturer in the NJIT College of Architecture and Design, is a popular expert on the conference circuit. This past year, she organized seminars for the American Society of Civil Engineers about critical infrastructure and how to move prefabricated structures. In 2011, she addressed the Annual Conference of Construction Specifications Canada (Devis de Construction Canada) in Montreal (http://csc-dcc.ca).
Following the devastating 2010 Chilean earthquake, the government there with the Inter-American Development Bank invited her to address ways of strengthening schools and educational facilities against the risks of hurricanes and earthquakes. In the aftermath of the horrific 2010 Haitian earthquake, Taher prepared a document for Architecture for Humanity about best building practices for hurricane and earthquake-prone areas. Taher cooperated with wind researchers at Tokyo Polytechnic University, Japan, to develop and translate into French a brochure for UNESCO to help Haitians better prepare for hurricanes.