Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing BuildingsMay 18 2017 · 0 comments · Nishkian Chamberlain, Seismic ·0
The Los Angeles Times proclaimed the start of a “New Frontier” for earthquake safety: a phenomenon kicked off by the city of Santa Monica, which recently adopted the most comprehensive seismic retrofit ordinance in the nation.
An Owner’s desire to evaluate the seismic performance of an existing building varies. Some national, regional and local Owner’s simply have a genuine concern for knowing the seismic vulnerability of their buildings. Other reasons Owners perform evaluations can include an adopted City Ordinance, a policy trigger for analysis or modification of the building, a requirement for a financial transaction, or buildings with State employee tenants requiring special analysis, just to name a few.
We are currently performing dozens of these evaluations on projects throughout California, efficiently utilizing the ASCE standard ASCE/SEI 41-13. Copyrighted in 2014 by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the standard was developed and written to combine the previously adopted standards ASCE 31 and 41 into a single document for the Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings. Whereas past retrofit designs often did not align with evaluations due to having documents with differing criteria for evaluations versus design, this single document coalesces both evaluation and design of existing building retrofits providing one coordinated methodology. Seismic evaluation is defined as an approved process or methodology of evaluating deficiencies in a building that prevent the building from achieving a selected Performance Objective. Seismic retrofit is defined as the measures taken to improve the seismic performance of a building by the correction of deficiencies identified in the evaluation relative to a selected Performance Objective.
The initial step in the process is to assist the client in establishing or selecting a Performance Objective which is a combination of a desired Structural and Non-Structural Performance Levels paired with Seismic Hazard Level(s). The chart below demonstrates the different Performance Level terminology:
Following the establishment of a Performance Level, the Seismic Hazard is established based on the seismicity at the building site determined by historical data, with consideration of proximity to known faults and their activity as well as the specified Seismic Hazard Level(s).
Evaluation procedures based upon the selected Performance Objective, level of seismicity and building type are identified in the following flowchart:
Each Tier of evaluation becomes more detailed and complex. The Tier 1, Screening Procedure, is a quick checklist of structural and non-structural components of the building. A Tier 2, Deficiency-Based Evaluation procedure, utilizes more involved checks of the building to provide a deeper understanding of the building’s design. A Tier 3, Systematic Evaluation Procedure, provides a full building review including linear and non-linear / performance based analysis and design options.
The final step in the review process is to prepare an evaluation report to communicate the results of the evaluation to the owner, local jurisdiction or agency requesting the evaluation. Depending upon the availability of information and the scope of the evaluation, the extent of the report may range from a letter to a detailed document.
If the seismic evaluation suggests that a seismic retrofit is warranted, the next step is to perform the design for the retrofit. A Seismic Retrofit design will utilize the evaluation report to identify the seismic deficiencies relative to the selected Performance Objective. One or more of the following strategies to retrofit the deficiencies may be considered:
- Local modification of components
- Removal of reduction of existing irregularities
- Global structural stiffening
- Global structural strengthening
- Mass reduction
- Seismic isolation
- Supplemental energy dissipation
- Other retrofit strategies approved by the local building department
Nishkian Chamberlain has extensive experience in seismic retrofit projects and is currently working with building owners to assist in identifying the impact that retrofitting in accordance with the City Ordinances will have on their building assets. We are currently working as part of an advisory council to evaluate over 50 buildings for one client that is proactively looking to understand the overall vulnerability of their portfolio.
Should you need the assistance of a trusted advisor to guide you through the uncertainty of the City Ordinances, evaluate an existing building or make additions/modifications to an existing building, contact us at NCInfo@Nishkian.com or give us a call at 310.853.7180 for cost effective, creative seismic retrofit solutions. You can also go to our Contact page to connect with any one of our offices in your region.