Brick Buildings: Are They Safe? Part 1

Brick buildings are charming, but they’re a known danger during an earthquake. Unreinforced masonry (brick) buildings are especially dangerous if they haven’t been retrofitted.

Building codes in California have prohibited construction of new brick buildings since the 1930s, after a collapsing brick building in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake killed school children. However, brick buildings built before then might still be at risk, particularly if they have not been retrofitted. How do I know if my brick building is safe?

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Can Earthquakes Be Predicted?

Can earthquakes be predicted? We get tornado warnings, hurricane warnings, snow storm warnings, but no earthquake warnings or earthquake prediction. Why is this? It’s difficult to prepare for something when we don’t know when it is coming. All we know is that eventually, the Big One will happen. Is new science making it possible to predict earthquakes?

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Are Buildings in SF on Rollers? Base Isolation in San Francisco

For California, another large earthquake is inevitable. In 1906, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck San Francisco and destroyed 28,000 structures, over 80% of the city’s buildings at the time. The magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 is estimated to have caused anywhere from $6-10 billion in property damages around the Bay Area. But these days there’s technology to help buildings resist earthquakes. One the most robust ways for a building to resist earthquake damage is base isolation. As a follow-up to the detailed New York Times article about base isolation, we take a deep dive into base isolation in San Francisco.

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