David J Dowrick

Life Membership Citation

David Dowrick graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Auckland University. He worked for 28 years in engineering practice, including 20 years as Project Engineer at Ove Arup & Partners in London. This was followed by 18 years as an earthquake engineering researcher until his official retirement from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in 2004. He was awarded a Doctorate from Auckland University for his research achievements. He continues as an active researcher to this day.

His consulting career involved many major earthquake-resistant design projects, including oil platform studies in the Maui gas field and the Gulf of Alaska, and the Ohaaki geothermal power station cooling tower. His non-seismic design projects include the roof of the Sydney Opera House, and the structural restoration of York Minster

After the Edgecumbe earthquake of 1987, David recognised an opportunity to obtain for the first time some hard data on damage to New Zealand buildings undergoing earthquake shaking. He set about with great determination to extract this data from insurance files, and was untiring in his efforts to fill in gaps by site visits and personal contacts. In the end, working with Engineering Seismology colleagues, he managed to catalogue the damage and categorise the building-type of virtually every structure in the higher Modified Mercalli intensity zones, and so was able to relate the distribution of damage ratio to the intensity level for many classes of building and their contents. Subsequently, he led similar studies of damage in the Inangahua earthquake of 1968, the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 1931, and the Wairarapa earthquake of 1942. In the latter two cases, the relevant damage data had not been widely known to exist until David’s enquiries uncovered it in library collections. David has also directed much energy to the development of Modified Mercalli intensity relations for New Zealand

David’s research has involved a number of successful collaborations. Foremost among these has been his long-term collaboration with David Rhoades, who has provided statistical input to his damage ratio and attenuation work. David has also made many fruitful visits to the U.K., where he has worked with Professor Nick Ambraseys and his group at Imperial College, and with Robin Spence on damage ratios and allied topics.

David has been an active long-time Member and Fellow of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering. He has been a frequent contributor to the Bulletin, in which he has authored and co-authored 40 papers, and has twice been the recipient of the Otto Glogau Award . He has also been an author of 26 presentations at World, Pacific and New Zealand Society conferences . He is well-known as the author of two books – Earthquake Resistant Design published in 1977, and Earthquake Risk Reduction in 2003.

It is clear that David has made a very significant contribution to earthquake engineering practice and research both in New Zealand and overseas. The award of Life Membership of the Society is therefore richly deserved.