Earthquake engineering professionals generally recognize that unreinforced masonry buildings of most vintages pose a significant risk of collapse in strong earthquakes. Cognizant of this, the City of San Francisco enacted an ordinance that required assessment, and either upgrade or demolition, of any such building within the jurisdiction found to be deficient regardless of its historic, cultural, or aesthetic significance. Sherith Israel was one such building.
The story of how it was literally saved from the wrecking ball by diligently treating seismic safety and historic preservation objectives with equal priority, and by employing a host of new technologies in concert with traditional ones to surmount technical challenges, is described herein by WJE earthquake engineers Sigmund Freeman, Terrence Paret, and Gwenyth Searer.
This article was originally published in the May 2019 issue of STRUCTURE magazine, exclusively published for the practicing structural engineer.