Executive Summary

Since the UC Regents’ Policy on Seismic Safety was adopted in 1975 to guide the campus in assessing the safety of its structures and the campus inaugurated its seismic corrections program, several major earthquakes have occurred in urban areas. The Loma Prieta in the Bay Area, Northridge in Southern California, and Japan’s Kobe earthquake have together provided a wealth of insight into seismicity and building behavior. With this information, and in consideration of the age of campus buildings, the campus’s proximity to the Hayward Fault, and the university’s obligation to provide safe facilities for students, faculty, and staff, the Berkeley campus commissioned a review of its buildings in 1997.

The completion of this review provided the campus with the most up-to-date, comprehensive analysis of structural seismic safety performance it has ever had. Correcting seismic deficiencies in campus facilities has long been an issue of the highest priority. Equipped with this review, the campus has been able to more effectively focus its efforts to meet its greatest responsibility: the protection of the life and safety of students, faculty, and staff. Further, the review provides a clearer understanding of what it will take to ensure the sustained operation of the campus as one of the region’s largest job centers and one of the nation’s most important educational and research institutions.

The 1997 survey was conducted jointly by three of California’s most experienced structural engineering firms. They analyzed the probable performance of campus structures in the likely event of a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault. They concluded that given the age of the campus’s buildings and with new information on how buildings react in strong earthquakes, particularly given the campus’s proximity to a major fault, the amount of campus space in need of corrective seismic work had increased significantly.

In the 1970s, when the first facilities assessment was undertaken, experts determined that a significant portion of the main campus’s space required retrofitting to be safe in a major earthquake. Work on 18 of the structures thus identified – including the upgrading of the three high-rise residence hall complexes to a rating of Good – was completed or under way in 1997at a total cost of approximately $250 million.

The first phase of the 1997 determined that 73 percent of the space on campus, including buildings with corrections under way, will perform adequately in a major earthquake, but approximately 27 percent of the main campus’s total space rates Poor or Very Poor and needed corrective work. The second phase, assessing primarily off-campus structures, concluded that the overall percentage of campus space requiring seismic corrections remained at 27 percent, and as many of the seismically deficient buildings added by Phase 2 are relatively small, the cost added by Phase 2 was well within the range of error of the earlier estimate for the main campus.
Most building ratings were downgraded as a result of greater knowledge of building performance in earthquakes, particularly structures close to fault lines. The buildings today are no less safe than they were 20 years ago, but the evaluation techniques have improved and are based on actual experiences of earthquakes in urban areas. Further, the age of the campus’s physical plant cannot be overlooked. Most of the seismically deficient buildings were constructed before 1960 when less stringent building codes were in effect.

The preliminary estimated total cost to retrofit the on-campus facilities most in need of attention for life safety purposes was approximately $700 million, in 1997 dollars. Preliminary projections in 1997 of available funds indicated that a 20- to 30-year time frame could be required to fund a seismic program of this magnitude. The total cost of the program would escalate to at least $1.2 billion over such a time frame, including assumed inflationary increases and new understandings of seismic safety developed along the way.

Though correcting these buildings continues to be a long-term, costly undertaking, the 1997 evaluation information provided the campus with an exceptional framework from which to develop a strategic plan to deliver the most responsible, effective, and cost-efficient solution.

In October 1997 Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl committed $1 million to intensify campus planning and announced a 10-point action plan that included a high-level administrative restructuring to focus on the issue. The 10-point plan, called the SAFER (Seismic Action plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal) Program, provides a comprehensive approach to seismic safety on the UC Berkeley campus.

The 10-Point SAFER Program

  1. Create a new position titled Vice Chancellor for Capital Projects whose duties will include overseeing all aspects of the SAFER Program.
    [more details in the Plan]
  2. Form an Executive Campus Planning Committee chaired by the Chancellor to be responsible for all physical planning decisions on the campus, including the coordination of seismic projects with academic program improvements.
    [more details in the Plan]
  3. Establish campus precinct planning committees to assess seismic needs in specific areas of campus along with campuswide functional assessment committees.
    [more details in the Plan]
  4. Determine the need for full or partial closure of facilities posing an unacceptable risk for continued use.
    [more details in the Plan]
  5. Create a master plan for facilities renewal.
    [more details in the Plan]
  6. Overhaul and streamline capital project management to increase efficiency and cost effectiveness.
    [more details in the Plan]
  7. Develop plans for obtaining temporary space, sites, and buildings to house functions that must be relocated as structures are renovated, or, in some cases, demolished and replaced.
    [more details in the Plan]
  8. Initiate a multiple-source financing plan to implement the plan for seismic corrections.
    [more details in the Plan]
  9. Ensure comprehensive emergency preparedness and provide training.
    [more details in the Plan]
  10. Develop a comprehensive campus and community communications plan.
    [more details in the Plan]
The SAFER Program, with its implications for the security of the campus community and for the sustained operation of the institution in the event of a major earthquake, remains a top priority for the campus.