News & Events

News & Events

7.15.2016

Portland’s Unreinforced Masonry Seismic Retrofit Project

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Walt McMonies authored an article in the May 2016 edition of Portland State University’s Center for Real Estate Quarterly Report titled “Portland’s Unreinforced Masonry Seismic Retrofit Project.” McMonies discusses the potential impacts of a significant earthquake on unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings and proposed City Code changes to expedite the seismic retrofitting of URM buildings. He also discusses what regulatory changes are needed and what financial support might be available for URM owners.

URM buildings are vulnerable to a high level of damage or collapse in a large magnitude earthquake, and they can suffer parapet wall damage and wall/floor separation even in a moderate magnitude earthquake. The City’s some 1,800 URM buildings include some of the City’s most historically significant structures, and provide cultural character, moderate-rate housing for 8,000 to 10,000 people and incubator office and creative commercial space for thousands more.