Rock You Like A Hurricane

If you live in Missouri, you understand that if you do not like the weather, just wait a few minutes, it will change. In January, it may be 60 degrees, yet in late April, it’s snowing. In Missouri, mother nature may walk to the beat of her own drum, but the one song she (thankfully) cannot channel is the Scorpions’ iconic anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”

Despite a fair amount of seasonal confusion, residing in the center of the country makes hurricanes essentially a non-factor. However, Mother Nature still can wreak weather-related havoc. Around here, we are most likely to experience flooding, windstorms, and tornados. In 2011, the Joplin EF5 tornado was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in the area, causing over $2.8 billion in damage. Just last spring the Jefferson City and Eldon areas suffered extensive tornado damage. A project we helped design, the state headquarters for Special Olympics of Missouri (SOMO), was substantially damaged. Now we are assisting in their rebuilding effort. And this fall there were damaging floods to communities and land along the Merrimac, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers.

As an architect, SOA uses local site information and prescriptive code measures to help design structures resistive to Mother Nature’s fury. On a basic level, we use FEMA flood maps to keep structures out of the flood plains and use stormwater management systems in low-lying areas prone to flooding.

A building’s roof can be designed with a 4-sided sloped roof (a.k.a ‘hip’ roofs) which may help to reduce some wind-related damage over square-end ‘gable’ and ‘parapet’ style. SOA works with our engineering consultants to use the right materials and structure to aid and augment a building’s ability to withstand local wind and snow loads.

For educational buildings, SOA has designed code-mandated storm shelters, such as the one for the now complete Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School (OLLIS). This shelter was designed to FEMA ICC 500 standards, a stringent building code requirement for new schools. OLLIS  is one of only two school shelters currently meeting this standard in Columbia. SOA even designed a storm shelter for our current office building, placing our employee bathrooms within a reinforced concrete core.

For more information regarding designing for Mother Nature’s rock concert, you can check out the International Code Council’s current building codes, or contact Robbie Price, architect and associate, at or 573.443.1407.

SOA can help you avoid a “head-banging” experience and keep you from getting rocked like a hurricane.

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