Quake-Safe Housing, Again

by Thomas D. Wosser, (M.ASCE), Sr. Principal; H.J. Degenkolb Associates, Structural Engineers, 350 Sansome Street, Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94104,
David W. Cocke, (M.ASCE), Principal; H.J. Degenkolb Associates, Structural Engineers, 350 Sansome St., Ste. 900, San Francisco, CA 94104,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 9, Pg. 54-56

Document Type: Feature article


Because so little data exist about earthquake behavior of buildings that have been strengthened to meet seismic codes, many engineers are curious about the Hotel Oakland in California and the effectiveness of its 1979 seismic rehab. The Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the exterior walls of the 79-year-old National Historic Landmark severely enough so that one wall had to be removed immediately. Yet the structure performed so well that most of the tenants could remain in their apartments during repairs and while plans were being made for the building's second seismic upgrade, which starts this fall. In an attempt to balance the need to preserve the historic character of the building and the community's need for safe and affordable housing, Degenkolb engineers developed a seismic strengthening scheme that accepted some structural damage but prevented collapse and protected human life. The scheme called for construction of reinforced concrete shear walls around stairs and elevators, with significantly expanded shear walls in the bottom two stories and basement.

Subject Headings: Seismic tests | Seismic effects | Shear walls | Housing | Earthquakes | Rehabilitation | Historic buildings | Historic preservation | California | United States

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