UBC buildings at risk of collapse in moderate earthquake: report (with video)

 

Analysis kept under wraps until student newspaper uncovered engineering studies

 
 
 
 
Mathematics building is one of the buildings at UBC at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
 
 

Mathematics building is one of the buildings at UBC at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.

Photograph by: Francis Georgian, Vancouver Sun

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VANCOUVER — Nearly 30 buildings at the University of B.C. that house thousands of students, professors and staff are at risk of collapse in a moderate earthquake, an assessment of seismic risk has concluded.

Under the analysis done in 2012 and updated in 2013, 29 buildings were deemed at very high risk or high risk for a collapse or partial collapse during an earthquake of magnitude 6.5, much smaller than the 8 or 9 magnitude mega-thrust earthquake predicted for off the coast and often dubbed the big one.

Loss of life is probable, said the UBC report.

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Among the structures at risk are the H.R. MacMillan building, which houses the faculty of land and food systems and classrooms; the Leonard S. Klinck building and its addition, housing the mathematics department and classrooms; and a medical sciences building that houses administration, anesthesiology, pharmacology and biochemistry offices.

It also includes the Thunderbird Stadium, home to the university’s football team.

The reports by consulting engineers Glotman Simpson and JM Engineering were not disclosed by the university until the student newspaper The Ubyssey requested them recently.

The university has a plan to upgrade, replace or demolish about half the affected buildings by 2020, but the remainder are not scheduled to be addressed until later. There is no date for when some of the buildings will be tackled, including the Douglas Kenny building, which houses the psychology department.
The price tag for the upgrades and demolition is about $400 million — $109 million for the seismic upgrades and the remainder for other needed updates — and UBC officials acknowledge the costs could increase.

The timing of upgrades is also dependent on availability of funding.

However, UBC says they have been reducing the stock of buildings at risk of failure in an earthquake since the 1990s, to 11 per cent of the 400 buildings on campus from 41 per cent.

For example, the university is completing upgrades to the Hebb building, which has classrooms for science students.

“We’ve made a lot of progress. Now that said, we still have work to do. There are still 29 buildings in those high-risk categories,” UBC’s managing director of infrastructure development John Metras said Tuesday. “The safety of our students, faculty and staff is the first priority, so we want to address all of these buildings.”

Metras said they would like to move faster, but that is simply not possible because they don’t have the funding and they need to stagger upgrades to buildings.

That’s because students and faculty must be moved elsewhere during upgrades and there is a limited amount of alternative space on campus.

Metras said they did not publicly release the risk assessments because the university did not want to target specific buildings which may give a false sense of security for people in other buildings, given it’s not known exactly how any single building would perform in an earthquake. They are reviewing their communication plan, he said.

The student society at UBC — the Alma Mater Society — said it will be discussing issues with administration raised by the reports.

“It’s not something to be taken lightly,” said Ava Nasiri, a fourth-year student and vice-president administration.

She said the university should be investing money in current buildings with a high seismic risk before building new ones.

UBC civil engineering professor Carlos Ventura said he takes some comfort the university is doing something to address seismic risk even if they are not acting as quickly as everyone would like.

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However, it is important the university be transparent and communicate the risks and how they are addressing them to the university community, said Ventura, director of UBC’s earthquake engineering research facility.

Simon Fraser University geology professor John Clague said a magnitude 6.5 earthquake can be expected somewhere in southwest B.C. or northwest Washington state about once every 20 to 30 years.

The last of that size — 6.8 magnitude — occurred near Olympia, Wash. in 2001.

Clague noted a problem with earthquake prediction is scientists are not yet in a position to predict where the next one will happen.

Buildings that would be damaged by a 6.5 earthquake would have to be within about 50 kilometres of the epicentre, said Clague, SFU’s chair in natural hazard research.

ghoekstra@vancouversun.com

Seismic Upgrade Plan - Sept 14 2015

UBC Seismic Risk Assessment_Eight Buildings Final Report_Feb 7-2013

UBC Seismic Risk Assessment_Building Report_June 18-2012

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Mathematics building is one of the buildings at UBC at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
 

Mathematics building is one of the buildings at UBC at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.

Photograph by: Francis Georgian, Vancouver Sun

 
Mathematics building is one of the buildings at UBC at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
UBC logo as a sculpture on Sept. 29, 2015.
H. R. MacMillan building at UBC is at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
H. R. MacMillan building at UBC is at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment
Leonard S Klink Building at UBC is at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
Macleod Building at UBC is at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
Block C — Medical Sciences building. The Medical Sciences building at UBC is one of those at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
Block C Medical Sciences building is one of the buildings at UBC at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
Thunderbird Stadium at UBC is at high risk of partial or complete collapse in a moderate earthquake, according to a risk assessment.
Nearly 30 buildings at the University of B.C. that house thousands of students, professors, staff and researchers are at risk of collapse during a moderate earthquake, a seismic-risk assessment shows. Among the structures at risk is Thunderbird Stadium, home to the university’s football team. .Edmonton Eskimos’ Danny Groulx, centre, as his teammates stretch before a pre-season CFL football game against the B.C. Lions at UBC Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday June 19, 2015. The game is being played at UBC due to the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place at B.C. Place stadium.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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