Project Description

Historic Italian Church Evaluations

  • University of Notre Dame
  • Seismic Design & Evaluation
  • Research & Testing
Market Sector:
  • Community & Faith

In October of 2016, central Italy was devastated by a significant earthquake, destroying homes and entire villages. Italy is prone to seismic activity and is also home to many precious medieval structures, including many churches. Determining how to best protect these historic buildings that hold great cultural and community value is a complex issue.

Frost engineering team members David Pirchio – a central Italian native – Kevin Walsh, Lily Pearson, and former Frost intern Marie Bond partnered with the University of Notre Dame and Italian universities to help develop a holistic seismic risk assessment methodology to apply across regional and national portfolios. The team ultimately evaluated 72 different churches across Italy and created an integrated framework to structurally model the unreinforced masonry churches from photogrammetry to finite element model analysis through heritage building information modeling (HBIM).

The process required an in-depth survey of each church including the use of non-destructive testing (NDT) equipment for material properties and drones to capture detailed and high-quality documentation of the structures. The research team collected extensive data including original construction dates, material properties and photographic details. The information collected was used to create 3D digital models of the churches for further evaluation and to create risk indices for each church, which were delivered to the dioceses to help prioritize the allocation of financial resources for the future retrofit and protection of these important community facilities.

The work our team members carried out has since been published in three different peer-reviewed journals, which can be found here, here, and here.

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