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15th Anniversary of Bad Design & Construction Catastrophe in Kobe

January 17th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

1995-01-17 05:46+09, fifteen years ago this morning, a major earthquake hit Kobe and a very large number of impressive structures designed and built by, serious, credentialed adults collapsed, killing over 6,000 people in a land obsessed with disaster preparedness. My friends who were there survived, the city has recovered well, but the impact it had on the local economy and Japan at large is still being felt today. As the old saying goes, earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.

We were living in Menlo Park, California at the time, and I had just welcomed my first official partner, a former Apple Japan employee, to my consultancy, something I should have done six years earlier when Third Culture Enterprises began. The earthquake severely damaged his father’s business and he had to return to Japan immediately, ending our partnership. A year later we moved away from Silicon Valley to a suburb of Sacramento and within a year of that my primary Japanese consulting contract was canceled. Just as the worldwide web began to boom, my career went into a tailspin.

For a spoiled first-world 白人 with all the advantages of a good education, family and health, any blame for career setbacks rests with me. Today, considering the negative impact an earthquake on the other side of the globe had on my life, the trauma of those whose lives are at the epicenter of these catastrophes is unimaginable.

Architecture matters.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Steve Schaffran
    April 28th, 2010 at 21:02 | #1

    I was Chile last week (April 21-23, 2010) for some meetings and I was astonished to discover that of the important new structures in Santiago, the one with the most damage was the airport. Though it is possible there is some variation in the soils that predisposed the structure to damage, bad architecture is a more likely explanation.
    As I write this, thinking about the experience in Kobe and Santiago, what comes to my minds eye are the very new very thin very tall buildings that have recently popped up on sites adjacent to the San Francisco end of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.

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