With $100 million worth of equipment and many people working at any one time in Evans and Sutherland's new Building 600 at University of Utah Research Park, it is easy to see why the company wanted the building protected against an earthquake.

The seismic protection system was engineered and supplied by Dynamic Isolation Systems Inc., Berkeley, Calif., and consists of 98 shock-absorbing isolators that de-couple the 116,000-square-foot building from the ground motion associated with earthquakes.Ronald L. Meyers, DIS president, said the systems is much like the shock absorbers and springs on a car, a system trying to take the bumps out of the road and make a smoother ride.

David C. Evans, Evans and Sutherland president, said Building 600, which is nearly completed, will be the corporate headquarters and a center for research, assembly and testing of a large computerized flight simulator system.

Because of the company's continued growth and the need for new facilities, Evans said he wanted the best earthquake protection available because Salt Lake City is located in a known earthquake zone. The system is identical to that being used in the restoration of the City-County Building.

Larry Reaveley of Reaveley Engineers and Associates, the Salt Lake-based structural engineers for the project, said that as more is learned about earthquakes and the magnitude of the force placed on structures, "we've been making buildings stronger to increase safety."

He said conventional, code-approved buildings are made earthquake resistant to avoid collapse, but they're not made earthquake-proof. In moderate earthquakes, that means some internal damage will result, while in major earthquakes there will be significant structural damages and damage to the contents, lives being endangered and high cost, Reaveley said.

Mayes said the isolators for Building 600 consist of many layers of rubber and steel bonded together as a single unit. The center of each unit is filled with a lead core and the entire device is vulcanized.

The isolators are stiff vertically so they can carry the weight of the building, but horizontally, where earthquake protection is required, the isolators are relatively soft, permitting the building to experience gentle sideways movements while the ground shakes violently from the earthquake.

Frank Stringham, vice president of the Bettilyon Corp., the Salt Lake City construction company for Building 600, said the isolators are much like column base plates and didn't require any special installation techniques.

Gary Jones, risk manager for Evans and Sutherland, said the decision to incorporate a seismic system in the new building has important business implications. "It will significantly increase our ability to function following an earthquake. If we were to suffer serious damage to our manufacturing operations, not only would we lose substantial work in process, but we'd also become vulnerable to loss of market share."