Highland Manor Community Safe Room

Madison, WI

Project Overview

The Highland Manor Mobile Home Community and its 450 residents needed shelter from severe storm events like tornadoes. Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to damage, and similar communities have been devastated by storms in the past.

The project team, including structural engineers from raSmith, designed a structure that met the 250 mph wind speed design criteria set by FEMA. This project also qualified for $1.2 million in grant funding because the design met FEMA’s P-361 standards, which is beyond what most engineers need to consider for their projects. Partnering with Spancrete, raSmith developed innovative precast concrete connections to ensure these individual components functioned as one system to resist extreme wind pressures associated with tornadoes.

By working together with homeowners in the community, the City of Madison and FEMA, the Highland Manor Community Safe Room project overcame significant design challenges to become what is now the largest freestanding safe room in Wisconsin. The building represents an innovative, cost-effective approach to preventing fatalities during severe weather events and serves as a model for future shelters and safe rooms. Highland Manor received a 2016 Structural Engineers Association of Wisconsin Excellence in Structural Engineering Award.

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