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Alcatraz Cellhouse
Stab i l i zat i on and Se i smi c Upgrade
Alcatraz Cellhouse, completed in 1912, is one of the earliest reinforced concrete buildings in the Bay Area. Severe deterioration and concerns about
seismic integrity prompted the National Park Service to engageWJE to perform an initial investigation of the complex. Following completion of detailed
condition surveys, state-of-the-art corrosion testing, petrographic evaluation, and materials testing, WJE designed the structural stabilization and
seismic upgrade.
The project utilized WJE experts in corrosion, materials sciences, and seismic design to upgrade this historically unique structure. Because of the
complexities of the repair project, WJE assisted the National Park Service in all aspects of the construction planning. Public visitation by more
than one million people per year continued during the repairs.
Notes of Interest
• When the Spanish first entered San Francisco Bay
in 1775, a naval lieutenant, Don Juan Manuel de Ayala,
named Alcatraz Island “Isla de los Alcatraces” (Island
of the Pelicans).
• During the years in which the penitentiary was in service,
there were about 300 civilians living on Alcatraz Island,
including women and children. Residential facilities
included Building #64, as well as three apartment buildings,
one large duplex, and four large wooden houses for senior
officers. Families enjoyed their own bowling alley, small
convenience store, and soda fountain shop.
• Records from the National Park Service indicate that
thirty-six inmates were involved in various attempts to
escape the island. The most famous escape was that of
Frank Morris and the Anglin Brothers. All three were
successful in swimming off Alcatraz, but all three are
believed to have drowned.
• The cellhouse was built on top of a nineteenth
century fortress that was used by the military to protect
San Francisco Bay.
WJE 50 Years