How Shoddily Constructed Buildings Become Weapons of Mass Destruction

Maria Auxiliadora School /

Why is it that the Bay Area can suffer a 6.9 earthquake and lose just 63 people, while Haiti suffers a slightly stronger quake and loses about 100,000? The answer: shoddy construction. As Bryan Walsh of TIME points out, “We tend to focus on the size of an earthquake, but death toll has more to do with the quality of buildings. [...] Poverty — and even more, poor governance and corruption — is the multiplier of natural disasters. [...] That’s why one of the most vulnerable places in the world is south-central Asia.” Learn more about the dangers of poorly constructed buildings here and see what the “true value” of architecture is here.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "How Shoddily Constructed Buildings Become Weapons of Mass Destruction" 16 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • Rory Stott

    Whilst I’m sure Bryan Walsh has a point, to label the Haiti Quake as ‘just a bit stronger’ than the bay area quake is disingenuous. The Logarithmic nature of the Richter scale means that at 7.0, the amplitude of the shaking in the Haiti quake was 25% more than in the Bay Area, and this means that the energy release (and therefore the destructive power of the quake) in Haiti was about 41% higher than the Bay Area. That in my book does not make them so easily comparable.