Throughout the years in California, we’ve heard about many large magnitude earthquakes, such as the Northridge quake in 1994. California, of course, isn’t the only state vulnerable to earthquakes. All along the western coast, earthquakes happen in Oregon, Washington, and neighboring states. Although earthquake damage can be devastating, smaller quakes do serve a useful purpose: they shine a light on structural fundamental flaws that plague older buildings in our cities.
Soft story retrofits are essential to reducing earthquake damage and preparing our cities for larger quakes that could happen in the future.
What Is a Soft Story Building?
A soft story building is a very simple thing; it’s a building where the first stories are much less rigid than the stories above it. These soft-story buildings are particularly dangerous in earthquakes, and even aftershocks.
Soft story buildings tend to be on a much larger scale as buildings go, and usually have unreinforced openings on the ground floors. Some examples may include a parking garage, an office building, or even a high rise apartment building with a lobby on the first floor.
Thankfully there are ways to stabilize a soft story building with a retrofit. In order to make a building safer, you need to include 2 key components: lateral stiffness and strength. In a soft story building, these components are missing! When you have a soft story and you get it retrofitted the building would get structural components needed in order to make it a safer building.
Options for a Retrofit
If you think you have to start new just because you have a soft story building, think again. Structural engineers and contractors can add certain aspects to a building that is already standing.
- Adding Shear Walls
- Adding a steel frame
- Removing drywall and adding shear walls.
Mind you when you retrofit a soft-story you aren’t making it earthquake-proof, rather you are making it earthquake-safe. It should also be noted that while you can retrofit a soft story building, retrofitting one simply won’t have the same structural standards that new modern construction does.
If you need a retrofit for your soft story building or you simply want to more information contact Saunders Seismic by visiting their website. They service Southern and Northern California as well as Washington and Oregon.