NJIT professor says certain home shapes and roofs hold up best in hurricane

June 19, 2007

Certain home shapes and roof types can better resist high winds and hurricanes, according to a researcher at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Civil engineer Rima Taher, PhD, special lecturer in the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT, spent two years examining the findings of research centers that have studied the best designs and construction materials and methods needed to withstand extreme wind events and hurricanes.

"Although I'd like to say that there is a simple and economical solution for housing that won't fail or collapse in the perfect storm, such information does not yet exist," said Taher. "However, it is obvious that thanks to the work of wind engineers and researchers that changes to home design and construction can make buildings safer for people, while saving government and industry billions of dollars annually."

"Design of Low-Rise Buildings for Extreme Wind Events" (Journal of Architectural Engineering, March, 2007) by Taher highlighted such research findings. Wind researchers at the Center for Building Science and Technology (CSTB) in France, researched and tested reduced-scale home models at its wind tunnel facilities, and developed a prototype of a "cyclonic" or hurricane-resistant dwelling. Taher cooperated with the CSTB wind researchers, working on the structural aspect of the home's design.

That design eventually became an elevated structure of a square plan form on an open foundation. The home had a hip roof and was equipped with a central shaft with aerodynamic features designed to reduce wind forces during an extreme wind event. Wind tunnel tests at CSTB showed that such a home would be far more efficient under high winds and hurricane conditions than a typical structure. CSTB is working with a builder to construct a prototype of such a home on Réunion in the West Indian Ocean.

From this work and other studies Taher recommends the following construction considerations for homeowners in hurricane-prone regions.
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NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, at the edge in knowledge, enrolls more than 8,000 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 92 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. In 2006, Princeton Review named NJIT among the nation's top 25 campuses for technology and top 150 for best value. U.S. News & World Report's 2007 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

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