Seismic Design Competition


3D rendering of the Bussola Torre


The “Bussola Torre” which was named after the Italian phrase ‘compass tower’ was designed, constructed, and analyzed with regard to the core objectives of the competition.  Earthquake engineering is an essential priority in California where earthquakes are commonplace. New technologies are being used, tested, and evaluated for performance based seismic design.  Our building exemplifies the team’s ingenuity, teamwork, engineering, and practicality.


The Bussola Torre is based on two core ideas: increase floor space and create a unique floor shape.  The design comes from the shape of a compass, which yields sixteen core columns.  The compass has lead man to discover new worlds since the beginning of time.  This building has guided the team through a learning process that encouraged growth as engineers.  The great engineer Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.”  This building set the team to sail to a point of convergence where practice and theory come together to create innovation.

Performance Prediction

A dynamic analysis was produced on SAP2000 v12.  This analysis was a cornerstone of the building’s design, testing, and modeling.  SAP2000 helped us improve the performance characteristics of our structure. Due to the results of initial analysis, we were able to re-design our sheer wall to enhance strutural integrity. In conclusion, dynamic analysis facilitated the design of a seismically sound stucture.


Our goal was to design a structure to maximize annual revenue and minimize initial cost. The building design was created with a small footprint, minimal material, appealing architecture and maximum usable floor space.  A geometric shape complimented by X-bracing was added to heighten the architectural appeal, which will increase our revenue.  A base weight of 3.85 lbs for structural material was selected as a constrraint for design to ensure the initial cost of the structure is low.  The minimum base weight was determined by comparing dynamic analysis models of varying material density.

Project Management

During the design phase, we drew our design of the building in
AutoCAD. Next, we modeled our design in SketchUp to have a three dimensional view     to facilitate construction planning. Furthermore, we utilized our design in CAD to output scale plotting which was used to make the construction templates. Lastly, tilt-up construction was used to maximize the structural integrity and accuracy of the final project.

Final Scores

Overall Rank: 6/19
Oral Presentation: 8.5/10
Poster: 8.5/10
Architecture: 16/20


Building Cost: $250,765.00
Income: $2,173,425.21
Seismic Cost: $460,651.46
Total Revenue : $1,462,008.75

2009 Team Video

Competition Photos

Materials from the competition:
powerpoint_thumbposter_thumb   fund_thumb

Perspective Sponsors

If you are intrested in donating to our organization please contact:

Bryce Lloyd
President EERI SJSU Student Chapter