Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lax code Checking... in Japan?

For all those who thought American standards were too high, compared to the Latin American way of building, here's a surprising story out of an epicenter of exactitude, Japan. The New York Times ran this on November 26th about a Japanese architect who cuts corners and has now scared the hell out of Tokyo because he used wood instead of rebar to reinforce concrete. The check that the American permit approval system provides has been privatized in Japan, and (obviously,) they go to the permit guy who will take the quickest look at the drawings and rubber stamp them. Way to end the article... "...The fact that this story came out before anybody died, before any building collapsed, while buildings were under construction, to me that is an encouraging sign,..." Wow. The glass is 1/100th full.
"It's not entirely my fault," Hidetsugu Aneha, the architect, told reporters last week. To cut construction costs and win more commissions, authorities say, Mr. Aneha designed 21 buildings over the last decade that would not withstand a moderate earthquake. Working in almost half of Japan's 47 prefectures, Mr. Aneha had a hand in nearly 200 structures, largely apartment buildings, but also hotels and temples. In one 11-story condominium complex studied this week by the newspaper Asahi Shimbun, columns and steel reinforcing bars were found to be too thin and too far apart, and different earthquake force figures were used for the same floor. The report for this Tokyo building, the newspaper said, was "filled with inconsistencies that any expert could easily have picked up."


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