The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Thursday, 05 September 2019 01:00cat

Seismically deficient buildings in UCLA and UC Berkeley

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UCLA and UC Berkeley buildings are found seismically deficient UCLA and UC Berkeley buildings are found seismically deficient LAtimes

A new study has shown that many buildings in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and in the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) are more earthquake-prone than anticipated.

The new evidence revealed that at least 68 buildings at UC Berkeley and 18 more at UCLA are inadequate and would experience significant damage in a large earthquake.

According to CSU (California State University) Seismic Requirements, there are 7 building rankings indicating the implied risk to human life during a large earthquake. Fortunately, there were no buildings found to be in the 7th category (dangerous threat to human life). Nevertheless, 62 structures at UC Berkeley and 15 at UCLA were placed in category 5 (serious threat to human life) while 6 more at UC Berkeley and 3 at UCLA were categorized in rating level 6 (severe threat to human life). 40%-100% of buildings belonging to category 6 could experience significant damage, with a very small chance of remaining unbroken, during a large tremblor.

The Research Library, also known as the Young library, the Powell Library, the Murphy Hall and the Luskin School of Public Affairs building in UCLA (which are crowed buildings) are among the structures that pose a significant threat.

UC Berkeley officials were alarmed by the new findings. Currently, they consider limiting the usage of some structures located in the university's campus. “The campus is assessing the situation and considering all available, realistic options to limit occupancy and usage of seismically deficient buildings,” UC Berkeley stated. 

In addition, the investigation is still underway for 500 more buildings in the universities of the UC system. In particular, the structures of the UC campuses that may be at danger belong to the UC Riverside, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.  

Remarkably, UCLA and UC Berkeley have made major structural modifications in their buildings over the past years spending more than $2.8 billion and $1 billion, respectively. However, according to Filip Filippou, Professor of Structural Engineering at UC Berkeley, the structures' deficiency derives from the underestimation of the potential shaking caused by a large earthquake.

A preliminary estimation suggests that repair works only at UC Berkeley would cost more than $1 billion. Currently, university officials are collaborating with CSU to approve an $8-billion bond for construction and repair works of UC and CSU buildings. “I don’t think the campus can afford not to do anything. It could be lethal for the survival of the campus,” Prof. Filippou stated.

The study should act as a warning about buildings vulnerability in the entire California community.

Sources: SFchronicleLAtimes 


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