The Challenges of Designing for Florida’s Unique Climate

Structural engineering practices work the same essentially everywhere buildings are made, but some structures require specific considerations that depend on the climate and landscape that surrounds them. Countries like Japan have a lot of seismic activity which gives engineers a unique challenge to make sure the building has the stability to become a high-rise but remains flexible enough to withstand an earthquake without falling. Buildings designed in Florida have to make similar structural challenges with extreme weather patterns and diverse geography.


Natural Disasters

One of the biggest challenges faced by engineers in Florida is the threat of natural disasters. Florida frequently experiences high winds, rain, and flying debris even outside of hurricane season. Rising sea levels also cause major concerns for coastal communities, with certain buildings becoming a hazard for the inhabitants, or even suddenly collapsing. Thankfully, engineers are trained problem solvers and have already come up with solutions for building stronger buildings in Florida.


Hurricane Proofing

Florida rests in what is commonly known as “Hurricane Alley,” which is a stretch of the Atlantic Ocean that spans from west Africa to the eastern side of the Americas, and frequently experiences hurricanes. Universities continue to create testing systems that give engineers the opportunity to see how different building materials and specifications react to hurricanes at a variety of scales. The tests also enable building material manufacturers to come up with more innovative products that can protect buildings from extreme weather and impacts from flying debris. 


Waterproofing Techniques

One of the biggest challenges facing structures small and large, all over the world is waterproofing. The Florida coast continues to experience rising sea levels. A prime example is the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South condominium in 2021, and more recently, the evacuation of another building on the same street. Thankfully an engineer giving a 50-year recertification inspection was able to catch the problem before anyone was hurt, but modern waterproofing techniques can give buildings more longevity. Water, especially seawater, is the greatest enemy of any building as it quickly causes materials to prematurely deteriorate.

As a Florida-based firm with structural engineers educated within this unique climate area, we are specially equipped to take on building projects that will last generations to come. At DDA Engineers, P.A., we offer engineering, peer reviewing, and inspection services to keep our vibrant communities safe. For a consultation, contact us today.

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