What do you know about soft story retrofit? The best way to understand this concept, you need to understand why it came about.
On January 17th, 1994, an earthquake with -6.7 magnitude hit the Reseda region of Los Angeles. In what later came to be known as The Northridge Earthquake, at least 57 people lost their lives and thousands were injured.
This catastrophic earthquake brought the fundamental structural flaw of thousands of buildings to national attention. As the earthquake rattled the City of Los Angeles, the bottom level of the Northridge Meadows apartment building crumbled underneath the 2 levels right over it. This resulted in the death of 16 residents who were on the first floor.
The question rose, why did that building fall to pieces when so many others remained perfectly standing?
That’s because the Northridge Meadows apartment complex was a soft story building.
What is a Soft Story Building?
These types of buildings have first floors that are much less rigid than the floors above, and highly vulnerable to earthquakes.
Why? Due to their wood-frame construction and un-reinforced open spaces on the ground floors, these buildings are susceptible to the lateral forces created by earthquakes.
The open spaces could be large windows, tuck-under parking lots, and even sprawling lobbies that are so common in retail and residential buildings.
Without proper structural design, these buildings are unable to withstand the seismic movements generated during an earthquake. Once the first level gives way, the levels situated above it collapse on top of it, squashing everything underneath.
This obviously poses a major challenge in earthquake-prone and highly populated areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles. However, these cities still have thousands of soft-story buildings that are in urgent need of a soft story retrofit job.
According to the California Institute of Technology, there are approximately 13,500 soft story buildings in Los Angeles alone that are in need of a soft story retrofit. And as per the records of the Association of Bay Area Governments, there are 3,526 soft story buildings in San Francisco that are yet to be retrofit but since these cities are bankrupt because of financial mismanagement there is a serious problem.
The terrifying part is experts have predicted that the Bay Area will be struck with a major earthquake within the next few decades. If that happens, 80% of the soft-story buildings in San Francisco would cave in. Los Angeles is not the only city that needs soft story retrofit.
How to make sure your building is safe with soft story retrofit?
Many building owners don’t really understand the impact of lateral stiffness and strength on a building. These two elements are crucial to ensure the building remains safe in the event if earthquakes. However, in soft story buildings, these components were very weak and unable to resist the seismic forces.
A soft story retrofit process addresses these oversights. Also, adds or modifies the structural elements to the building, making sure it stays standing when the earthquake hits.
Weinstein Retrofitting Systems has been serving the property owners of California for over 40 years. Our experts can help you save you a lot of time and money. We have custom-designed structural engineering, construction, financing, tenant habitability, and cost recovery plans.
Call us at 888-690-1561 or drop us a line here to schedule a free inspection today!