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Love Library not up to code for earthquakes

Kelly Smiley, Photo Editor

Kelly Smiley, Photo Editor

by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Mundo Azteca Editor

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Malcolm M. Love Library at San Diego State is overdue for seismic retrofitting, renovations that would make the building more resilient to seismic activity from earthquakes, but it will not be renovated any time soon due to a lack of state funding.

Although the library does not sit directly on a fault, the nearest one — the Rose Canyon fault —  is capable of producing a magnitude 7 earthquake and has not fractured in 300 years. 

The California State University Seismic Review Board is responsible for identifying facilities considered potentially hazardous in two systemwide lists: Priority 1which identifies buildings that need “urgent attention” and Priority 2 which identifies buildings that need “special attention.”

The CSU Seismic Retrofit Priority Listings for 2016 identify the Love Library as a Priority 1 facility that is in need of “urgent attention for seismic upgrade as soon as resources can be made available.”

The library has been on the Priority 1 list since 2010.

A recent study found that the Rose Canyon fault is actually a continuous fault zone to the Newport-Inglewood fault.

Valerie Sahakian, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological survey and the study’s lead author, said the amount of shaking depends on the size of an earthquake and seismic retrofitting intends to reduce the amount of damage.

Associate Vice President of Real Estate, Planning and Development at SDSU Robert Schulz said the library will not be renovated anytime soon because projects like seismic retrofitting are no longer funded by the state.

Governor Jerry Brown eliminated capital funding for projects separate from the general fund budget, which paid for projects such as seismic retrofitting.

According to CSU Seismic policy, the Review Board was created in 1992 as a result of a policy adoption by the CSU Board of Trustees that aimed to set a standard for existing buildings to provide “reasonable life-safety protection.”

The Review Board, made up of external engineers, increased the ground motion standards and told the university to consider renovation of the Love Library, Schulz said.

Standards set for Humboldt State University, which sits on Mendocino Triple Junction, a location where three plate boundaries meet and can produce “mind boggling” epic earthquakes, can not compare to San Diego, Schulz said.

“They would like the design to take a higher level of lateral loading when the ground shakes so it would be reinforcing the shear wall structures that underlay the basement,” he said. 

California building codes are adopted every three years meaning buildings, like the Love Library, that was built 46 years ago were built to different codes.

A building that does not meet current state building codes does not mean it is unsafe it just means the codes were different when it was built, Schulz said.

Schulz said he has no knowledge of when the CSU will set aside funds to renovate the Love Library.

He said the university has done analysis on the library’s structure and they have determined that they would need to put in a new foundation under the core of the building and add new shear walls.

SDSU geological sciences professor Isabelle SacramentoGrilo, said the distance between the fault and the building has to be taken into consideration to determine the effect an earthquake can have on it.

“Total collapse of buildings in the western world, and in California particularly, is rare because buildings are typically built with some seismic building codes in mind,” she said.

SacramentoGrilo teaches a natural disasters course and tells her students that they do not want to be in the library when an earthquake occurs.

There are three waves that behave differently during an earthquake, SacramentoGrilo said.

“From an earthquake various waves are sent through the ground that we feel as a shock wave,” she said. “The first wave is the P wave which doesn’t do much it just goes very fast, then comes the S wave which moves things up and down and then comes the Love wave which is the surface wave which shears the things shears the rocks side to side.”

She said the Love wave would be potentially hazardous in a building like the library because if the building is shaking side to side it could compromise the lower floors and lead to a collapse.

“So you sort of have to be proactive in this if there’s a building that needs retrofitting,” SacramentoGrilo said. “And we’re in California for god sakes; retrofit the damn building.”

Schulz said the building is safe.

“I would have no qualms to have all three of my grandchildren do a sleepover at the stats at any day or time,” he said “There’s nothing for any student, faculty or staff to be concerned about in that building.”

Communications senior Dominique Cañez said he studies every day in the Love Library and spends an average of 10 hours a week on the third floor.

He said it is irresponsible that the library has not been retrofitted.

“It should be a top priority,” Cañez said. “To risk student’s lives for whatever reason is irresponsible.”

Schulz said the university has decided that a partial renovation of the building would be disruptive, and it does not make sense to renovate the library until they can renovate and address all the code problems, fire safety issues and elevator maintenance.

The total cost to renovate the library, not just seismic upgrades but also other maintenance needs, would be around 140 million or more, he said.

The last buildings to receive seismic retrofitting upgrades at SDSU were Storm and Nasatir Halls.

Schulz said that was the last state- funded academic building on campus.

Since then, the university has focused on the construction and renovation of buildings that bring in revenue, like new student housing and the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union because students support a fee to cover the costs of them.

This is due to the lack of money spent by the state on higher education projects like renovations, Schulz said.

“We are a creation of the state legislature. The state of California tells us what our budgets are, what our priorities are and tells us what the state of California wants to fund and doesn’t want to fund,” Schulz said.  “That decision is decided way outside the parameters of San Diego State and anybody here.”

Criminal Justice sophomore Ariana Uribe said it’s seems like their priorities are with the university being a business.

She said to not prioritize retrofitting is really dangerous because we are expecting a big earthquake soon.

“I don’t want to be in the building when that happens,” she said.

Schulz said it would give people the wrong impression to think something wrong is occurring because there are other maintenance needs on the campus that exceed 500,000 dollars.

“Of the things I worry about long term, the seismic safety of Love Library is fairly low on my list,” Schulz said.

History sophomore Madison Schwartz said she’s not surprised that the library is not up to date on seismic renovations.

“I don’t walk around thinking it’s disgusting or old, but sometimes thinking about the elevators and such it makes sense and it could probably use updating,”she said.

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Love Library not up to code for earthquakes”

  1. John R. on March 22nd, 2017 6:05 pm

    I attended SDSU 1970-1974. I spent a lot of time in Love Library. It’s hard to believe there’s been no fortification or retrofitting since my days at State. I was there in the Ice Age for goodness sake.

    [Reply]

  2. Lyle O. on March 27th, 2017 10:51 am

    “I would have no qualms to have all three of my grandchildren do a sleepover at the stats at any day or time,” he said.

    Is it possible he actually said, “at the stacks…”?

    [Reply]

  3. Herrnhut on April 2nd, 2017 10:43 am

    Something can be done even if the library is not upgraded right away. The reading room, study rooms, sofas, lounge, offices and the cafe should not be in the lower floors. There is a higher likelihood of pancaking for the lower floors. The concrete stairs on the outside may be gone. The columns could use some jackets.

    The stacks and heavy machines should be moved to the basement or the lowest level. The building masses are the inertia for the quake forces. So if the elevated masses are reduced or placed on grounded floor, the forces will be much mitigated.

    In the end, all these changes can only be made with wise and diligent chief to overcome old commandment inertia. This needs wings on a prayer to the Lord God.

    [Reply]

  4. SDSU Canyon Supporter on April 22nd, 2017 10:33 am

    Now that SDSU celebrated Earth Day 2017 by announcing its plan to destroy the canyon to the west of campus to build “buildings that bring in revenue” its time to revisit student safety and the dangers of an old library not up to code.

    It’s hard to imagine that an SDSU VP would say the university ignores seismic safety and focuses on profit making – “Since then, the university has focused on the construction and renovation of buildings that bring in revenue, like new student housing and the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union because students support a fee to cover the costs of them. – VP Schulz”

    [Reply]

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