SF State's buildings could crumble
May 10, 2010 5:35 PM
San Francisco has been hit by two major earthquakes and is likely to face another in coming years, yet many buildings in the city still lack the retrofit necessary to resist a major temblor.
According to an article published by California Watch, several universities in the state are home to a majority of seismically unsound buildings.
At the top of the list is the University of California, Berkeley with more than 70 buildings that are deemed high-risk.
Yet some of SF State's own buildings are on this list, including the parking garage labeled as Lot 20 and the Humanities building.
The five-story structure is one of the busiest on campus, housing over 15 different departments, each with its own faculty, staff, and students.
"A lot of my classes are in this building," 21-year-old English major April Mara Cristal said.
"I guess since earthquakes are a reality in California and I've never heard this before it makes me very concerned, but I don't really care until something actually happens. It's always that 'what if' that scares people."
Geoscientists predict that an earthquake will hit the Bay Area in the foreseeable future.
"According to the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) there is a 62 percent probability that there will be an earthquake within the next 30 years somewhere in the Bay Area," said Ray Pestrong, a professor of geology in the geosciences department. "There are many fault lines in the area, we don't know which one, but it could be on any of them."
After the 1989 Loma Prieta quake SF State was left largely unaffected but Verducci Hall, a dorm building on campus that provided 763 beds, was heavily damaged.
It was deemed structurally unsound and remained closed until its demolishment in 1996.
"There has been retrofit to a number of buildings on campus and you can see which ones: Hensill Hall, (Ethnic Studies and) Psychology and Administration," said Pestrong.
Although not every building on campus is retrofit, most comply with building standards.
"In general the campus structures are built accordingly to code and previsions and atop stable soil," said Mutlu Ozer, a lecturer of mechanical and civil engineering.
Reassuring as this is, some students prefer to keep a nonchalant attitude.
"I don't really think about it, I mean if it's going to happen there's no stopping it --not every building you go in can be safe," Jeremy Hahn, a 24-year-old history major, said.
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