Researchers simulated an earthquake at the University of Nevada, Reno's Large-Scale Structures Laboratory using "three 50-ton-capacity shake tables [and] a two-story structure," looking to make the nonstructural parts of buildings more resistant to quakes. Nonstructural items such as partition walls, water pipes and ceiling tiles aren't critical to the buildings' structural integrity, but they do account for about 85% of the building's value, according to Manos Maragakis, dean of the university's College of Engineering.

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