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 Stories for April 29, 1998:

Regular Features:

SAFER Seismic Review Complete

by Robert Sanders, Public Affairs
posted Apr. 29, 1998

The university has completed the second and final phase of its extensive seismic review of campus buildings, the first part of which was released last fall.

In phase 2, outside consultants took a close look at the earthquake safety of 150 buildings, most of them located off the main campus at sites such as the Clark Kerr Campus, the Richmond Field Station, the Botanical Garden and University Extension in San Francisco.

The review, which also involved checking buildings rated poor or very poor prior to the recent studies, found no surprises.

It did, however, reinforce the urgency of finding $1.2 billion to upgrade more than a quarter of all campus space over the next 20 to 30 years.

In the phase 2 report, 38 additional buildings were judged to be seismically deficient and in need of corrective work. The total space involved and the projected cost, however, are relatively modest compared to the significant retrofitting required for the 57 buildings already identified in phase 1 of the review.

As a result of phase 1, the campus initiated a 10-point SAFER program last October to bring campus buildings up to an acceptable level of safety over the next few decades.

“The results of our phase 2 survey do not have the drama of phase 1,” said campus planner Tom Koster, director of Space Management and Capital Programs.

“It basically confirmed what we thought. The good news is that no major buildings were downgraded to very poor.”

Koster emphasized that most of the 38 buildings found to be in poor or very poor condition are smaller structures, many just a few thousand square feet, including field buildings and greenhouses. The largest buildings downgraded to poor are 2111 Bancroft (“Banway”) and Richardson Hall at the SF Extension Center; 21 of them are at the Richmond Field Station.

In all, about 320,000 gross square feet of space were found to need work, at a cost of $50 million to $100 million.

By contrast, the phase 1 review identified 10 times this amount of space in need of seismic work at the main campus, at a cost in current dollars of $700 million, projected to total at least $1.2 billion with inflation.

“The cost added in phase 2 is well within the range of error of our earlier estimate for the main campus,” Koster said. “So it still appears the needed work can be accomplished generally within the previously estimated time frame and cost.”

With the seismic review now complete, the campus has 95 buildings, accounting for 27 percent of all usable space, that need corrective work. Nine buildings are in very poor condition and 86 are in poor condition.

Those newly identified as very poor are three wood-frame buildings at the Richmond Field Station (Buildings 150, 175 and 180) and 2251 College, an unreinforced brick building housing archaeology programs. Already known to be in very poor shape, and thus at the top of the campus’s priority list, are Wurster Hall, the UC Berkeley Art Museum, Hildebrand Hall, the Greek Theatre and the old Art Gallery. Two buildings judged to be very poor in phase 1 were upgraded to poor in phase 2: the Campus Garage on Oxford St. and a now-vacated building on upper Dwight Way at the Smyth-Fernwald complex.

Not included in the new studies were structurally deficient campus buildings where construction is already funded or under way, such as Hearst Mining Building, Doe Library and McCone Hall.

The original SAFER report and the phase 2 report, which includes the ratings of all the buildings studied, are available at

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