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seaoc Digest for 13 Nov 1997 -Reply

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You wrote:

<<<<Hello fellow Engineers,
I am currently working on a 4-story unreinforced brick building that was 
rehabilitated to comply with Div.88 of  the city of Los Angeles. We are 
now doing some interior remodeling and upgrading utility systems to this 
building. But I am wondering if anybody has worked out something to add 
more strenght and safety to this kind of building besides its compliance 
with Div.88. The building reveals several large cracks on the exterior 
face that were patched up or regrouted with new bricks. 
How about an additional 4-inch thick shotcrete to the exterior face of 
the entire building or new steel frames installed inside the building ?
I would appreciate any information regarding practicality, cost, 
structural capacity, detailing, or general pitfalls when considering 
these alternatives.

Tin Dinh, 
The biggest pitfall when evaluating an existing building is not understanding how the
building will perform in an earthquake.  There are several documents that you can get from
FEMA on the methods and costs of rehabilitating existing buildings, but these documents
can't tell you what to do for a particular building.  If you want better performance than the
Minimal Life Safety afforded by Division 88, then you need to analyze the building for real
earthquake forces, accounting for damping and energy dissipation, to see how it behaves. 
FEMA 273 is the only document that has any such guidance for URM buildings, but
unfortunately it is not ready for general use.  Until it is published, your are on your own.

Brian Kehoe