Best Design Practices for Seismic Evaluation and Preservation of Historic Buildings

Two historic and distinctive building complexes, located in downtown Sacramento, were targeted for seismic evaluation and rehabilitation as part of the city’s seismic safety and downtown revitalization program. This evaluation provided a unique opportunity to examine new seismic systems and perform benefit-cost analyses. Complex 1 was originally constructed in the late 19th century and comprised of seven buildings. Several of the buildings suffered fires contributing to the abandonment of the entire complex. However, the tall concrete grain silos and some of the historic features were intact. Hence, the complex is listed on the city’s register of historic places and required preservation. Advanced analysis showed that the undamaged buildings had sufficient capacity to resist seismic loading; only minor seismic upgrade of these structures was necessary. A fire-damaged unit was seismically retrofitted using concrete shearwalls. The other units were demolished. Two new buildings were constructed using a unique structural system to provide open living spaces. The project provides 146 housing units and a recreation center. Complex 2 is a replacement of a two-story 1950s lightly reinforced concrete building. Detailed structural investigations showed that the cost of preservation would be prohibitive. A modern and aesthetically pleasing steel building was engineered as a replacement. Its many un-common features—the complex uses multi-directional sloped roofs, sloped columns, and oval interior openings—necessitated comprehensive seismic design and detailing. Upon completion, the building will serve as an interactive learning center, including a theater, used to educate the audience about the diverse and rich history and cultural heritage of the state.

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