Commercial Earthquake Retrofitting

Commercial Earthquake Retrofitting

Medical doctors say that no two humans are alike; not even identical twins. As professionals, we also understand that no two buildings have the same exact features. Even though they might have a similar layout, differences in structural composition, the materials used, the wear and tear, and even the soil structure will cause the disparity.

Earthquake Retrofitting

A good number of commercial buildings constructed before the year 1987 are not known to be capable of resisting the effects of an earthquake. This means that these buildings, if they are in an earthquake territory, pose a threat not only to the users but to surrounding buildings. The susceptibility to structural damage or even eventual collapse is one risk that you cannot afford to take, hence, the need for commercial earthquake retrofitting services.

Here, we shall go into detail about some of the common buildings that are in need of retrofitting and how we tackle each project uniquely.

Soft-Story Buildings

This is a very common apartment building and it commonly features an open parking on the ground floor and dwelling buildings above it. Sometimes, the ground floor is converted to a retail space and it is enclosed by windows. However, these windows do not provide any form of structural support. Many of these buildings were constructed before the year 1978 and they are prone to collapse when a major earthquake occurs.

A good solution would be to install a sturdy steel moment frame in a rigid foundation to avoid the swaying movement and also absorb any ground motion caused by seismic activity.

More Retrofitting Solutions


Even though they emerged in the early 1900s, they did not really become prevalent until after World War II. This means a lot of the buildings were installed before the year 1978. The way these buildings were built is that the building’s walls were poured directly on the construction site and then the materials were raised (or tilted upwards, hence, the name). The rising demand for new buildings implies that this strategy is still very much in vogue and isn’t going anywhere soon.

A retrofit, in this case, will entail strengthening the weak connections in the building. Many of these buildings are known to crumble in the face of severe earthquakes and a seismic retrofitting is of huge importance.

Unreinforced Masonry

One place where you’ll see this sort of building commonly is in downtown communities. One common feature is the wall (both load-bearing and non-load-bearing), the chimney, and other masonry materials. But unfortunately, they are also vulnerable to failure during an earthquake as certain portions of the masonry fail easily. A plethora of approaches will fit this sort of building, one of which is to secure the structure to its foundation. It is also possible to join building elements to limit the independent movement of the remaining parts of the structure.