Saturday, April 6, 2019

Making sense of the Seismic Resilience Report

A new report on earthquake risk on campus, otherwise called the Seismic Resilience Report, was presented to the UBC Board of Governors in February. Some notable reevaluations have emerged, but making sense of the report is complicated by the way in which information is being disseminated and how word of mouth communications are further complicating comprehension of the report.

For reference, the report can be found at this URL.  Additional information can be found at UBC's "Upgrading for Seismic Risk" webpage.

I first heard about this report in my capacity as a member of UBC's Board of Governors in February. At the time I noticed that my home department's building, ANSO, seemed to be in a perilous state and asked a question about it's status. The explanation was that due to the reassessment being presented upon the 1970s era core classroom complex had a higher than previous risk factor.  Given a set of comparisons between cost for total replacement vs full mitigation vs targeted retrofit vs mitigation measures all compared to estimated cost per saved life I was told that ANSO was inline for a targeted retrofit beginning 2025 through 2026.

In the table above we see the project cost of the targeted retrofit of ANSO. The graphic to the right of the page shows the legend explaining the colour codes.  Readers should note that this is a 'notional' timeline. That is, it is not a commitment. It is dependent upon funding, logistics, and consultations.
This graphic shows which portion of ANSO is actual the focus of the report. As I will note below, some confusion seems to have emerged with people thinking the report was referring to the entire building.  The red area is that portion of ANSO that was built in the 1970s along with the Museum of Anthropology and designed by Arthur Erickson. The three wings of ANSO left coloured white are the former women's dormitories that were converted into offices.  They are not part of the priority targeted retrofit.

According to the report the Erickson core has serious structural issues and is a high risk of failure in an earthquake.

This figure gives some more context to the ANSO building. First, note that the building under consideration is listed with a build date of 1974 - this implies (unless there is an error in the report) that it is the Erickson core, not the former women's' dormitory (build 1950s).  This figure also shows the disturbing projection of a 70%+ probability of collapse based on a 2018 analysis.  The building is listed as suitable for a targeted retrofit and that it is a candidate for near term mitigation measures. Then are included estimated costs for retrofit, full renewal, or replacement. The cheapest option is retrofit. The notes indicate attention to the mitigation of adjacent buildings at time of retrofit would be needed.

Based on this report and explanations that I received at the Board of Governors' meeting it would appear that a retrofit for a portion of the ANSO Building is planned for sometime starting 2025.

Starting a couple of weeks or so ago I started hearing from colleagues that our building was slated for demolition and there was no clear plan for either our safety or our relocation in the meantime.  I'm not clear on what may have changed.  The plan isn't set, it's not approved as of yet - but then, neither is total tear down. Either such plan would have to make their way to the Board's property committee and, far as I know nothing has yet been presented.

The seismic resilience report lays out a course of action that anticipates the cost of saving lives as part of a metric for decision making in facilities renewal (the cost of 'mitigating' a fatality for the Erickson core of ANSO is 19 million dollars, at the low end of the spectrum. page 10 of report).  I anticipate that a fuller process will take place that involves a more meaningful communication of the report.  Occupants of ANSO, our staff, colleagues, and students and our guests need to have the assurance of safety. But we also need to know that reasonable repairs and maintenance to our building will be dealt with appropriately and in a timely fashion.

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