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2016, Chapter 1: What We Learn from Vernacular Construction,   In: K.A. Harries & B. Sharma, editors; Nonconventional and Vernacular Construction Materials, Characterisation, Properties and Applications, Woodhead Publishing Series in Civil and Structural Engineering, No. 58, Elsevier, London, 2016, pp 3-36

Excerpts of the book as a whole can be read in Google Books Here.  In Google Books, Chapter 1 is shown complete.  To find it, turn through 20 pages of the book's front matter with Roman numeral numbered pages, to find it on page numbers 3-36.

2015, Keynote Address Paper: Traditional is Modern: Traditional Building Technology for Resilience in the Modern Era, Proceedings of the International Expert Meeting on Cultural Heritage and Disaster Resilient Communities within the framework of the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, March 2015.

Book of Proceedings published 2016.

2013,Keynote Address paper "Timber Frames and Solid Walls: Earthquake Resilient Construction from Roman Times to the Origins of the Modern Skyscraper," 1st International Symposium on Historic Earthquake-Resistant Timber Frames in The Mediterranean Area (H.Ea.R.T.2013), Cosenza, Calabria, Italy.pdf icon 

2011, Keynote Address Paper Ancient Construction Technologies that can Protect Modern Buildings From Collapse in Earthquakes, Proceedings of CICOP Pre-conference of the of the Biennale of the Architectural and Urban Spaces (BRAU), The 4th International Conference on Hazards and Modern Heritage, Sarajevo, Bosnia, June 13-16, 2011.  0.6MB

2008, by Randolph Langenbach, Learning from the Past to Protect the Future: Armature Crosswalls, Engineering Structures, Elsevier. Vol. 30, No. 8, August 2008, pp 2096-2100

2006, by Randolph Langenbach, Khalid Mosalam, Sinan Akarsu, Alberto Dusi, ARMATURE CROSSWALLS:
A Proposed Methodology to Improve the
Seismic Performance of Non-ductile Reinforced Concrete Infill Frame Structures
, 8th U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering (8NCEE), San Francisco 1906 anniversary, 2006.

2005, by Randolph Langenbach, ARMATURE CROSSWALLS,
How pre-modern construction practices may hold the key to avoiding the collapse of vulnerable urban housing blocks
, Joint US-India Symposium on Urban Housing and Infrastructure in New Delhi, October, 2005.

2003, by Randolph Langenbach, "CROSSWALLS" INSTEAD OF SHEARWALLS: A Proposed Research Project for the Retrofit of Vulnerable Reinforced Concrete Buildings in Earthquake Areas based on Traditional Hımış Construction," Proceedings of the Turkish Fifth National Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Istanbul, 26-30 May, 2003.  (1.6 MG)

2012, by Randolph Langenbach, "Was Haiti in 2010 the next Tangshan in 1976: Heritage Structures Reveal the Hidden Truth about Risk and Resilience during the Haiti Earthquake," Proceedings of the ICOMOS Scientific Symposium on 'Reducing Risks to Cultural Heritage from Natural and Human-Caused Disasters, 31 October, 2012.  2MB

1989, by Randolph Langenbach,  "Bricks, Mortar, and Earthquakes, Historic Preservation vs. Earthquake Safety,"  APT Bulletin, The Journal of Preservation Technology, The Association for Preservation Technology International, XXI, 3&4, Sept. 1989.  OLIVER TORREY FULLER AWARD ARTICLE, 1990.

1987,  by Randolph Langenbach, "Traditional Masonry and Contemporary Reinforced Concrete Frame with Infill Wall Construction in Seismic Areas," Proceedings, Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering, New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, New Zealand, Vol 2, pp 129-37.

1987 by Randolph Langenbach, "Masonry as a Ductile Material: Traditional and Contemporary Construction Practices Utilizing Unreinforced Masonry in Seismic Areas,"  Proceedings: Fourth North American Masonry Conference, Masonry Society, Los Angeles, California, USAVol I, pp 33.1 - 33.14




A 45 minute plenary address at the Oregon AIA
Unreinforced Masonry Buildings
Seismic Resilience Symposium
in Portland, Oregon, on July 29, 2019.

Text and photographs
Randolph Langenbach, 2019

Click to fill screen
click to select screen resolution for high definition viewing.


Randolph Langenbach, FAAR,
Building Conservation Technology


Features of masonry buildings which have demonstrated earthquake resilience in past that have been forgotten over time, will be described.

This will include a look at how the 18th century original wings of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace in Kathmandu which survived the 2015 earthquakes with little damage, while the 19th and 20th century wings were partially collapsed.

Recent earthquakes have shown how certain kinds of retrofits have best coupled with the inherent strengths of masonry, and thus have been more successful than those which replaced the original structural systems of masonry buildings with frames. 

In the video, I explain that I will post on this page the list of "A FEW FINAL SUGGESTIONS" that were in a slide near the end of my talk, but which because I had run out of time, I could not verbally discuss them.  I am listing them here, as explained in this video.


  • BOLTS + is the most important first level retrofit

  • Masonry needs overburden weight.

  • Visible retrofit is better than invisible.  Core drilling is both expensive and invisible + corrosion prone.  Visible upgrades are often better, even for historic buildings.

  • Be careful of RC shearwalls and RC window and door plugs, as well as X Braces that lack flexibility and damping.

  • Avoid cement mortar and cement stucco.

  • Avoid internal frame supports taking loads off of URM walls frames respond to earthquake often with more vibration throwing masonry walls over,  such as seen with gables in churches.

  • Brick foundations in good repair & on rock or firm strata do not need to be replaced.



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Randolph Langenbach

M-Arch (Harvard), Dipl.Conservation (York, England)

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