Historic Upgrades in San Francisco

by Eric Elsesser, (M.ASCE), President; Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc., San Francisco, CA 94111,
Mark Jokerst, Principal; Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc., San Francisco, CA,
Simin Nasseh, Principal; Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc., San Francisco, CA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 10, Pg. 50-53

Document Type: Feature article


The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake seriously damaged many of the historical buildings that compose the San Francisco Civic Center complex. As the complex serves as a critical cultural and government hub, the state of California quickly enacted a massive repair and retrofit program for the structures. For many of the buildings, it was the first time they'd been upgraded in more than 50 years. Engineers used conventional shear wall techniques to rehabilitate most of the facilities, but two of the structures � the 550,000 sq ft City Hall and the brand new State Office Building � require innovative approaches. To retrofit City Hall, engineers used elastomeric bearings, making it the largest building in the world to be rehabilitated with seismic isolation. For erection of the new office building, the design/build team created an entirely new type of passive damper technology. Complicating matters was the fact that all work had to be performed under the imminent threat of an earthquake and without interrupting daily business at one of San Francisco's most famous historic landmarks.

Subject Headings: Rehabilitation | Shear walls | Historic buildings | Government buildings | Earthquakes | Commercial buildings | Team building

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