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Performance of HUD-Affiliated Properties During the January 17, 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

pdf icon Performance of HUD-Affiliated Properties During the January 17, 1994 Northridge Earthquake. (4848 K)
Todd, D. R.; Anderson, E.; Carino, N. J.; Cheok, G. S.; Chung, R. M.; Gross, J. L.; Phan, L. T.; Schultz, A. E.; Shenton, H. W., III; Taylor, A. W.; Yancey, C. W. C.

NISTIR 5488; 66 p. August 1994.

Available from:

National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB95-174488


earthquakes; building collapse; damage; methodology; construction; disasters; residential buildings; building performance; building technology; multi-family housing; nonstructural performance; residential structural performance; seismic design


The magnitude 6.8 January 17, 1994 Northridge Earthquake was centered under the densely populated San Fernando Valley northeast of Los Angeles, California. At the request of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted field observations of multi-family residences three stories or more in height in the affected area for the purposes of identifying common damage states in residential construction. Sixty-nine HUD-affiliated sites, totalling 425 buildings and over 10,000 living units, were visually examined from the exterior and interior. Buildings were selected for observation based on distance from the epicenter and amount of damage. Examinations were documented on a data collection form and with photographs. By collecting information primarily on damaged buildings, it was possible to identify typical types and degrees of damage to residential buildings. Only a few HUD-affiliated buildings were severely damaged. By and large the damage observed was minor and cosmetic, consisting largely of cracks to interior and exterior wall surfaces. Nevertheless, this type of nonstructural damage will be costly to repair. Documentation of the costs of repairing Northridge earthquake damage would greatly expand the existing body of knowledge on this subject. The damage observations suggest that further studies of the social and economic costs of earthquake damage are needed, along with studies of the costs and benefits of more stringent seismic design and construction requirements. These studies would illuminate many of the issues surrounding the current debate over whether seismic requirements for new and renovated construction should be upgraded to mandate property protection as well as protection of human life.