20th Anniversary of the Northridge EarthquakeJan 17 2014 · 0 comments · Nishkian Chamberlain, Seismic ·0
Twenty years ago today on January 17, 1994 at 4:31am, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake of about 10 seconds centered in the Northridge area shook much of Southern California awake. The Northridge Earthquake would soon register over 1,000 aftershocks with the strongest ground motion recorded reaching some 220 miles from the epicenter. The quake also caused more than 11,000 landslides which blocked roads and damaged and destroyed structures. It is recorded as one of the costliest natural disasters to hit the United States with over $40 Billion in damages sustained.
As a result of the quake, many changes occurred in building codes, public awareness, preparation and public policy. One of the causes of loss of life was the collapse of the Northridge Meadows Apartment Building which contained a “soft story”, where the first story (consisting of parking) lacked shear walls or lateral force resisting elements along one edge of the building. During the earthquake, this level gave way and was crushed under the weight of the second and third floor apartments. 16 people tragically lost their lives in this one building.
Engineers in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas are now focusing on strengthening these soft story designs and other such structures most susceptible to damage in earthquakes and are calling for new retrofitting programs for the ever aging building inventory. It is not known how many buildings in the Los Angeles area are in need of strengthening and retrofitting; however, earlier this week the LA Mayor Eric Garcetti called for new efforts to be made to address earthquake safety in existing buildings (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-earthquake-safety-los-angeles-20140114,0,7496398.story#axzz2qXClJrA7). San Francisco is one such city that has recently enacted new legislation to investigate and retrofit some 3000 buildings needing upgrading for “soft story” deficiencies.
Nishkian Engineers have extensive experience in seismic upgrades and retrofitting. Our engineers keep up to date with ever changing building codes and state of the art solutions to address these challenges. Do not hesitate to contact any of our offices should you have any questions about earthquakes and your building.
Photos by the staff of the Los Angeles Daily News– http://photos.dailynews.com/2014/01/photos-a-look-back-at-the-1994-northridge-earthquake/