Soft Story Earthquake Retrofitting
A soft story building is a building in which one or more floors have windows, wide doors, or other openings like this in places that normally have a shear wall. This shear wall is normally required for stability and security as a matter of an earthquake engineering design.
These buildings are called “soft” because of the structural design. They are especially dangerous in situations such as earthquakes since the structure does not have the same security as a regular building. It cannot withstand the forces caused by an earthquake which is why it can potentially collapse. This is actually one of the leading causes of damage to soft story buildings.
A soft story building is considered soft due to a story that a lot of wide open space. A couple examples of a soft story building would be, an apartment building of two or more stories located over a ground level with large openings, such as a parking garage. This wide open space has less opportunity to install shear or stable walls in order to maintain a steady structure. There are specialized walls that can help aid the structure in times of an earthquake. Think about it like this, if you were driving into a parking garage, have you ever noticed that sometimes, each level is wide open? This is a perfect example of a soft story building. Yes, the structure is securely built to withstand tons of weight that the multiple cars have when parked there at the same time. But if there were to be a massive earthquake, and the parking garage was not built with the proper stability, this would likely collapse.
It is very important to understand if your soft story building is a faulty structure. In general, it is not as apparent that these buildings have a weak structure. A few examples of a faulty soft story are, if the structural joints have poor detailing, if the beam and slab reinforcement is unbefitting, the reinforcing steel is insufficient and has an inaccurate aspect ratio. It is extremely important to prevent the ultimate collapse of a building. Soft stories are often times at the bottom of a structure (back to our parking garage example). So if there is a collapse, it can take the entire building down with it. If this happens, this building could have potentially fatal damage and become irreparable and unusable in the future.
As an earthquake specializing company, at Weinstein Construction, we know exactly how to resolve, repair, and prevent any damage that happened or could happen in the future. With the experience that we have, our team has the ability to take existing soft story buildings and give them the TLC they need. And this process is very important. It involves breaking down the existing slab structure and placing new reinforcement beams in order to set the building in place. New concrete is poured into the area, and once it is dry, the improved soft story structure is complete.
If there are concerns of whether your building is a soft story building, or if you have concerns about earthquake related damage, Weinstein Construction guarantees to have a solution for you.