Someone asked me a question on Quora about the survival of high rise vs a low rise building during a seismic event. I tried to do my best to explain which one can fall over and in the end, it depends on the design and analysis type.

The probability of failure of a structure depends on the way it was engineered. It is not as easy as it sounds or feels. Designing a structure to resist earthquakes lies under a lot of assumptions. Straight from the analysis approach, assumptions in code and probability of earthquakes. A building might collapse if:

1. Ground motion or ground acceleration or intensity of an earthquake is higher than what is calculated. A design level earthquake is the one that has the probability of exceedance of 2% in 50 years. Why 50 years? Because that is the assumed life of a building. If we have an earthquake stronger than design level earthquake, then there are chances that a building might collapse.

2. Low ductility in the building. If the building is designed with…

The probability of failure of a structure depends on the way it was engineered. It is not as easy as it sounds or feels. Designing a structure to resist earthquakes lies under a lot of assumptions. Straight from the analysis approach, assumptions in code and probability of earthquakes. A building might collapse if:

1. Ground motion or ground acceleration or intensity of an earthquake is higher than what is calculated. A design level earthquake is the one that has the probability of exceedance of 2% in 50 years. Why 50 years? Because that is the assumed life of a building. If we have an earthquake stronger than design level earthquake, then there are chances that a building might collapse.

2. Low ductility in the building. If the building is designed with…