Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal

SAFER Program Supplement

April 24, 1998


This Supplement to the SAFER (Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal) Program report of October 24, 1997 includes the results of the second phase of seismic studies for the Berkeley campus. Phase 2 primarily covered off-campus structures. In addition, buildings that had been rated Poor or Very Poor prior to the recent studies as well as several newer structures not previously rated were reviewed in Phase 2 to confirm their ratings. The results are summarized below following a brief discussion of the origin of the SAFER Program.

As was anticipated, in broad terms the results of Phase 2 will not have a major impact on the overall scope or direction of the campus’s SAFER planning efforts as outlined in the October 24 report (where additional information on the SAFER Program may be found). The overall percentage of campus space requiring seismic corrections remains at 27 percent, and as many of the seismically deficient buildings added by Phase 2 are relatively small, the cost added by Phase 2 is well within the range of error of the earlier estimate for the main campus. Therefore, it appears the needed work for the entire SAFER Program can be accomplished generally within the previously estimated time frame and cost.


In the 20 years since the Berkeley campus inaugurated its seismic corrections program in response to the first systematic seismic assessment of its facilities and the adoption of the UC Regents’ Policy on Seismic Safety, the campus’s program has funded approximately $250 million of seismic improvements. Over the same period several major earthquakes have occurred in urban areas, including Loma Prieta in the Bay Area, Northridge in southern California, and Japan’s Kobe earthquake, and these have provided a wealth of additional insight into seismicity and the behavior of buildings. With this new 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 its students, faculty, and staff, the Berkeley campus recently commissioned a new review of its buildings.

The 1997 survey, conducted jointly by three of California’s most experienced structural engineering firms, analyzed the probable performance of campus structures in the likely event of a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault. The consultants concluded that the amount of campus space in need of seismic strengthening is significantly greater than previously believed.

The recent two-phase review provides the campus with the most up-to-date and comprehensive analysis of structural seismic safety performance it has ever had. While correcting seismic deficiencies in campus facilities has long been an issue of the highest priority, this new information equips the campus to focus its efforts more effectively to meet its greatest responsibility: providing for the safety of students, faculty, and staff. The review also establishes a clearer understanding of what it will take to ensure the sustained operation of the campus, which is one of the region’s largest job centers as well as one of the nation’s most important educational and research institutions.

Results of the Study

Phase 1 of the assessment focussed on buildings on the main campus and determined that roughly 73 percent of this space would perform adequately in a major earthquake, but approximately 27 percent of the main campus’s total space was rated Poor or Very Poor and needed corrective work. A total of 57 buildings were identified as needing corrections. Fifty of these buildings were rated Poor and seven were rated Very Poor.

Phase 2 primarily assessed off-campus structures, but also examined structures that were rated Poor and Very Poor prior to Phase 1 as well as several newer structures not examined during Phase 1. The Berkeley campus has responsibility for approximately 600 buildings, including distant field stations, but the current seismic studies were limited to buildings proximate to the Hayward Fault, including the east hill area, Clark Kerr Campus, Richmond Field Station, and UC Extension facilities in San Francisco. Certain minor buildings such as those used for storage were also not included.

As a result of Phase 2, an additional 38 buildings were rated Poor or Very Poor, putting the total number of identified campus buildings requiring corrective work at 95 (57 plus 38). Three previously unrated wood-frame structures at the Richmond Field Station (Buildings 150, 175, and 180) were rated Very Poor and the rating of 2251 College, an unreinforced masonry building that houses archaeology programs, was downgraded from Poor to Very Poor. At the same time, ratings for a structure at the Smyth-Fernwald complex and the UC Garage were upgraded from Very Poor to Poor. The net result was to increase the total number of Very Poor buildings from seven to nine. The number of Poor buildings is now 86. The total amount of space requiring retrofit is approximately 27 percent of the campus’s total assignable square feet.

Based on Phase 1, the preliminary estimated total cost for seismic retrofit was approximately $700 million, in 1997 dollars. Preliminary projections of available funds indicate that a 20- to 30-year time frame could be required to fund a seismic program of this magnitude, and the total cost of such a 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.

The average size of the 38 off-campus structures added in Phase 2 is significantly smaller than the size of the majority of buildings in Phase 1. Many are just a few thousand square feet, including field buildings and greenhouses. The largest downgraded buildings are the “Banway” Building (2111 Bancroft) and Richardson Hall at the San Francisco Extension Center, and about half of them are at the Richmond Field Station. The additional space identified in Phase 2 as needing retrofit totals about 320,000 gross square feet, and the additional cost to the SAFER Program for these structures is estimated to be in the range of $50 million to $100 million, or less than 10% of the previously estimated cost of the Program. Given the roughness of the earlier estimate, this additional amount is well within the earlier estimate’s margin of error.

A five-volume report containing the detailed seismic analyses of individual buildings may be consulted at the reserve desk in Doe Library on the Berkeley campus.

Plan of Action
Seismic status of campus buildings. Updated April 24, 998

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