Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



A need exists for structures. that are harmonious with nature which are safe for their occupants and also aesthetically pleasing to the senses. To fulfill this need, architects must contend with one of nature's most violent phenomenon, the tornado, which causes the loss of hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property damage annually. Tornado incidence is less frequent during certain times of the day, months of the year, and different areas of the country, but is an everpresent environmental threat.

Tornadoes cannot be prevented or predicted and even now are not completely understood. The time between the warning of an approaching tornado and when it actually strikes is woefully short. Areas of high tornado occurrence require public buildings that possess the ability to withstand major structural damage and provide their occupants with a reasonable measure of safety.

Although most information available about tornadoes is theoretical, much new knowledge has been gained by studies based on observed damage to buildings. Such a study by the National Weather Service on the safest places in schools is so thoroughly documented that it can be translated into design determinants for new structures.

Part One of this paper deals with tornado phenomenology and acquaints the architect with the extreme forces generated by tornadoes. Part Two describes the effects of tornadoes on buildings as documented by the National Weather Service report and other studies. Part Three consists of design recommendations for architects when designing a tornado resistant structure. It is hoped these recommendations will lead to an increased awareness by architects of tornado dan­gers and the need to design structures that will help reduce needless deaths of countless occupants.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Robert C. Cohlmeyer

Second Committee Member

William R. Gafford

Third Committee Member

Robert Walters

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Architecture Commons