UC Berkeley announces six buildings seismically "very poor," retrofits or replacements in the works

UC Berkeley's Campus sits directly atop the Hayward Fault making it highly vulnerable to severe sharp shaking at any time.

It looks as if the old campus will need a lot of renovations, retrofitting and replacements.

UC Berkeley's Tolman Hall, deemed too seismically unsafe, is being torn down.

This week, after reviewing hundreds of its structures through the latest science and engineering available, the UC's Seismic Policy Initiative found more building problems.

"We're an institution dedicated to science so, obviously, we're gonna pay careful attention to that and wanted to make sure to the extent our buildings remain safe and/or what sort of work need to be done so they remain safe in the contexts of this new knowledge," said UC Berkeley Spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Cal named six on campus buildings, including Wellman Hall as "very poor." Also included are Durant, Evans, and Stephens Halls, as well as Donner Lab Addition, and Moffitt Undergraduate Library, some of the oldest buildings on the campus.

"Berkeley has already spent, in recent years, more than a billion dollars to retrofit. We walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to seismic safety. We remain committed to exactly that going forward," said Mogulof.

The work or replacement must be done in the next ten years.

"I guess it's alarming to hear that there are these buildings on campus but I also see during school some reconstruction in some of the buildings. So, I hope they get to it fast because we never know when an earthquake is gonna come," said Hiro Fu, a student at the University.

"I haven't been in any particularly bad ones but I think that is the nature of the area. So, of course I would like things to be retrofitted and safe. I'm also comfortable with taking that risk personally," said student Emily Moell.

In education, the three R's are "Reading', writing' and 'arithmetic." But, in seismology, there are four other R's. Restrict, retrofit, raze and replace.

"In many cases, buildings should simply be torn down and replaced," said world renowned earthquake engineer, Peter Yanev, who applauds UC Berkeley for going public with this.

However, Yanev deliverd this sobering analysis.

"The campus has not been exposed to a real earthquake effectively since it was built. So, actually, in effect, none of the buildings on campus have been really tested by what I would consider to be a serious earthquake.

All the earthquakes have been relatively minor, including the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Other University of California campuses are undergoing similar structural inspections, analyzing thousands of buildings.