Update on Seismic Safety

September 17, 2019
Kim Wilcox
Chancellor
September 17, 2019

Dear Colleagues:
 

We write to provide an update on the University of California’s proactive, multi-year efforts to address seismic safety, and to reinforce our commitment to the safety and well-being of individuals and property on all UC campuses, including UC Riverside.
 
Starting last fall, structural engineers have been evaluating existing UCR buildings in order to assign ratings, which represent an assessment of every structure’s ability to address seismic hazards.  The seismic ratings are on a scale from “I,” with negligible risk to life during a major earthquake, to “VII,” for buildings considered dangerous and requiring immediate evacuation. Buildings with ratings of VI or VII are those with highest risk and concern for seismic impact. Buildings with initial ratings of V are typically older and have features similar to other buildings that have not performed well in the past (some damage, but not collapse). It does not necessarily suggest that the building is hazardous; it means that the structure needs further study and may or may not require retrofit.
 
These first phase of assessments are high-level review and identify those buildings that need further review. They are instructive and beneficial to the process of prioritizing needed seismic retrofitting work. Overall, the work is being done in three phases:
 
PHASE 1: This phase consisted of initial high-level reviews of 118 buildings located in the campus core.
 
PHASE 2: The recently completed second phase yielded a preliminary report of an additional 213 buildings.  UCR had no buildings with a rating of VII and four facilities with a VI rating, which is considered poor. One of those buildings rated VI is College Building South; and the other are three buildings within the Plaza Apartments complex, which are already undergoing seismic improvement design. 
 
The overall ratings of the 331 buildings and structures assessed so far are as follows:
Level III – 70
Level IV – 154
Level V – 103 (17 have been identified for focused additional review)
Level VI – 4 
Level VII – 0
 
It is important to note that many of the UCR buildings with an initial assessment of V had seismic retrofits implemented in the past, some as late as the 1990’s. All UCR buildings met seismic codes when they were originally constructed or when they received seismic retrofits. However, geotechnology and seismology knowledge has continued to advance, thus changing the standards and buildings codes for construction. The present seismic review of buildings generally focus on their projected performance under rare events, typically a “1,000 year” occurrence.
 
PHASE 3: The third phase of this effort is now underway, with the seismic assessment of the remaining campus facilities to be completed no later than June 30, 2020. Many of these facilities are located outside the campus core, such as the Agricultural Operations buildings. 
 
The UC System has been helping campuses identify funding to assist with priority seismic retrofits, and some of that may come about through a General Obligation Bond program going before the voters in March, 2020 if approved by the legislature.
 
Earthquake risks are an ever-present factor in living, working, and building in California. While it’s not possible to eliminate all risk in any facility, our priority is to protect our community and resources by proactively ensuring that our facilities provide an adequate level of safety.
 
We will continue to update the campus on upcoming plans to modernize and retrofit facilities on campus, which will likely occur on an ongoing basis for the next several years.
 
Should you have any immediate questions on the campus seismic program please contact Drew Hecht, at 2-7358 on campus.
 
Kim A. Wilcox                                                     Gerry Bomotti
Chancellor                                                           Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer