Los Angeles County Buildings
Ear thquake Damage Eva l uat i on
When the County of Los Angeles claimed that damage to its buildings was caused by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the county’s insurance
companies engagedWJE to evaluate the technical merits of the claim. As the lead technical consultant during the adjustment phase of the project,
WJE provided consulting services over a three-year period. The work involved more than thirty WJE engineers, architects, and materials scientists
from offices around the country.
The project illustrates WJE’s ability to assemble high-quality technical expertise across a broad range of disciplines, as well as to provide and
coordinate a large project team to address hundreds of issues. Computer-generated animations were created and used by WJE to complement
the expert testimony given by three of the firm’s principals.
Notes of Interest
• The Northridge earthquake occurred on January 17, 1994,
at approximately 4:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The
earthquake had a “moderate”magnitude of 6.7, but the
ground acceleration was the highest ever instrumentally
recorded in an urban area in North America. It proved to
be the most costly earthquake in United States history.
• The earthquake struck in the San Fernando Valley
about twenty miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Its epicenter was first reported as being in the community
of Northridge, thus giving the earthquake its moniker,
but was later calculated to be in Reseda.
• Despite the area’s proximity to the San Andreas Fault,
the Northridge quake did not occur along this fault, but
rather on a previously undiscovered blind thrust fault.
• The Great Hanshin earthquake in Japan occurred exactly
one year later, on January 17, 1995.
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