UW Emergency Management

Earthquake Readiness Advisory Committee report

Summary of recommendations

Earthquake Readiness Advisory Committee – 1991 (view full report)

The following summarizes the Committee’s recommendations. At the time of this study, there were 292 facilities within the responsibility of the University of Washington. Of these, 166 facilities of enduring interest to the University were analyzed with respect to their likelihood of sustaining significant damage in an earthquake and potential for loss of life. To be clear, no official seismic analysis was done for this 1991 study.

*Please note, this is one of many historical studies done on the UW Seattle buildings regarding earthquake “readiness”, and does not reflect current (or in process) studies and retrofits.

A. The following buildings were considered to be liable to major seismic damage and to have a high life safety hazard potential:

Architecture Hall (1909)
Art Building (1949)
Denny Hall (1895)
Edmundson Pavilion (1928)
Gowen Hall (1932)
Guggenheim Hall (1929)
Hansee Hall (1936)
Johnson Hall (1930)
Miller Hall (1922)
Music (1950)
Parrington Hall (1902)
Savery Hall (1917)
Smith Hall (1929)
Suzzallo Library (1926)

The number in parenthesis refers to the year of construction. These buildings are likely to suffer major structural damages, possible collapse, and major non-structural damage in the event of a major earthquake. The evaluations of the 155 facilities were intended to identify the possibility of structures being susceptible to seismic damage. This overall view of the campus buildings is not the same as a detailed engineering study of individual facilities. It is recommended that the buildings listed above be studied in detail with the preparation of consequent seismic upgrade designs and then the completion of necessary fieldwork. The studies should be based on common criteria and it is recommended that “A Handbook for Seismic Evaluation,” ATC-22, be used as the basis for such engineering reviews.

B. The following buildings were considered to have high damage potential and moderate life safety hazard:

Administration [Gerberding] Building (1949)
Anderson Hall (1925)
Chemistry Library Building (1957)
Clark Hall (1898)
Conibear Shellhouse (1949)
Hutchinson Hall (1927)
Lewis Hall (1896)
Marine Sciences Building (1966)
Pavilion Pool – Men’s (1939)
Roberts Hall (1921)
Raitt Hall (1916)
Student Union [HUB] Building (1949)

These are of the second priority and the recommendations are that the previously described procedures be applied after the completion of the work on the first list.

C. The third priority list of buildings with high damage potential and low life safety hazard includes:

Canoe House (1918)
Faculty Center (1960)
Intramural Activities Building (1968)
Observatory (1895)
Plant Operations Building (1929)

These buildings should be dealt with in the same manner as those listed previously after the completion of the work on the second priority.

D. A fourth and final group of buildings was identified. These buildings had high life safety hazard but with only moderate damage potential: 

Bagley Hall (1937)
Condon Hall (1974)
Magnuson Health Sciences Center:
Wing D
Wing I
Wing AA
Wings E and F
Wings G and H
D Wing Addition
MRCD Tower
Physics [Mary Gates] Hall (1928)
University Medical Center:
Wing EA
Wing EB
Wing SS
Wing SE
Wing NN-2
Wings EE
Wing CC
Wing SW of EA

The structural damage to these buildings could be minor in an earthquake and should be readily repairable. The non-structural damage could be significant and require major repairs. However, the risk to life and limb is high in these buildings, and, in the case of the medical facilities, there is a concern for their post-seismic functioning which goes beyond the immediate campus to the community at large. It is recommended that engineering studies take particular note of these life and functioning concerns.

E. Special non-typical structures on campus

The recommendations are particular to the non-typical structures listed in Chapter 6. The structures involved are:


Over 15th Ave. N.E., Henry Art Gallery to Schmitz Hall
Two over Montlake Blvd
Bridge and ramp over N.E. Pacific to Hitchcock
Over N.E. Pacific to Health Sciences, T-Wing
Over Burke Gilman Trail to Health Sciences, T-Wing
To Edmundson Pavilion

West campus Receiving Electrical Station
Exhaust Stacks – Central Plaza

All these structures are recommended for engineering study and subsequent action. In the case of footbridges, these studies should follow “Seismic Design Guidelines for Highway Bridges” of the Applied Technology Council. The footbridge to Edmundson Pavilion is owned by the City of Seattle.

F. Buildings where potential hazardous non-structural details exist (Table 6F)

It is recommended that these components should be studied and subsequent action taken. This work has a high priority.

In the concern for the operations on the campus after an earthquake, it was noted by the Committee that the control and communication center will be located in Bryants. This building is not of enduring interest to the University and was not studied. However, until the control center is re-located, this building has a critical role in the operation of the campus. The Committee recommends that these control and communication activities be established in secure campus buildings.

The recommendations were established after a broad study of the campus facilities. None of the buildings were studied in detail. The various constituencies on the campus will read this report with their own concerns in mind. This is appropriate but it should again be emphasized that the work of the Committee involved the total rather than the parochial worries about the campus.