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Historical Buildings Are At Risk during Seismic Activity

Historical Buildings Are At Risk during Seismic Activity

Earthquakes, mighty, quick and so erratic, result from unexpected movements of the geological plates that form our Earth’s crust.  Earthquakes usually occur along cracks or fractures known as “faults.”  Older buildings that were not been designed and constructed to absorb powerful rocking and rolling ground movements often sustain major structural damage, and even total collapse, as a result of strong seismic activity.  Most historic buildings on the West Coast, in fact, are extremely vulnerable to seismic activity.  As a result, cities and towns in California, especially those near fault lines, are starting to adopt very strict requirements for seismic retrofitting existing buildings (buildings more than 20-30 years old).

Although older, historic buildings can be retrofitted to endure earthquakes, there are a number of retrofit practices that can actually damage or obliterate the very features that make such buildings valuable.  Safety issues certainly should be the most important considerations and, luckily, there are a number of approaches or strategies available that can save weaker historic buildings.  Wreckage caused by earthquakes or damage caused by indifferent retrofit procedures is certainly avoidable.  Building owners, property managers, tenants, and communities need to be completely involved in the planning, decision-making and subsequent preparations for strengthening historic properties in order to make sure minimal, if any, damage is sustained.

Recent earthquakes have shown that historic buildings that have already been retrofitted to endure earthquakes survive better than those that have not gone through a seismic retrofit process. There are a number of relatively simple efforts, such as tying buildings to foundations, bracing parapets, and anchoring brick walls at the highest roof level that have proven be very successful.  Statistics are available that show that well maintained buildings stand up better than those in poor condition, both during and after powerful seismic movement.  Regular building maintenance and a seismic retrofit are two major points to consider regarding the protection of historic buildings, particularly those built along the many fault lines in California.

Having a professional and experienced team in place is especially important when planning for any seismic retrofit.  Seismic strengthening of existing historic buildings and knowledge of community planning for effective earthquake response makes the professional opinions of team members from the right disciplines tremendously important.  Experienced architects and engineers, who specialize in historic buildings and who have a working knowledge of a variety of options, are critical to the design and implementation process.  It is also imperative to hire contractors who not only specialize in seismic retrofitting, but who also have specific experience in retrofitting historical buildings.

Don’t wait for the next quake to focus on the weaknesses in your historic building!

Saunders Seismic Commercial Retrofit, serving commercial and historical property owners in Los Angeles and throughout California, has the necessary experience in anchoring historical properties and removing potential hazards to ensure the safety of the building occupants.  After completing a detailed evaluation of a property, the professional team at Sanders Commercial Seismic Retrofit will provide building owners with a comprehensive plan for any necessary maintenance and retrofitting requirements.

To find out more about whether your historical property in Los Angeles should be strengthened and reinforced to withstand the impact of an earthquake, call Saunders Seismic Commercial Retrofit today!


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