Towards a Vulnerability Assessment of Historic Timber Barns in the U.S. Midwest Under Severe Windstorms

Moriah G. Hughes, Branko Glišić

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many characteristics mark U.S. timber barns as built cultural heritage: they provide use-value and identity-value to owners and communities; they are physical records of the history of individual farms, U.S. farming communities, and technological development; they are vernacular constructions, designed and built by a wide variety of entities with a wide variety of styles and technological understandings; and they are formed of historic and even rare materials. Further, as buildings distinguished by a large innate capacity to adapt to change, they embody a case study in sustainability and resilience – a capacity which can be stewarded into the future. Although considered American icons, their status as built cultural heritage, and the resulting impacts of their loss on communities, is not well addressed. Consequently, while they receive architectural and popularized attention, their structural stewardship has not been scientifically approached. And due to their age and outdated design, these barns are particularly susceptible to natural hazards, the primary of which in this region is severe windstorms. This work covers the results to-date of a project which aims to develop a structural vulnerability assessment for historic Midwestern timber barns under windstorms, with the end goal of providing an owner-usable tool for risk assessment and remediation. The significance and broader impacts of the work include supporting sustainability and community resilience, reducing economic impacts of natural hazards and climate change, and preventing identity and cultural heritage loss in rural U.S. communities. Current outcomes include the in-situ assessment methodology developed for characterizing this specific population; results, includ-ing challenges discovered, from initial in-situ assessments; and the implications for the vulnerability assessment approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1181-1191
Number of pages11
JournalRILEM Bookseries
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanics of Materials


  • Conservation of 20th century architectural heritage
  • Resilience of historic areas to climate change and hazard events
  • Timber structures
  • Vernacular constructions
  • Vulnerability analysis


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