Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Wurster Hall Retrofit 
University of California, Berkeley

Wurster Hall, in the upper center of this image, is undergoing major structural revision (Canon 24-mm, June 2000)

California is earthquake country. During the 15 years I have lived in Berkeley, I have felt on average around one earthquake per year. These are usually small events, maybe 3 or 4 on the Richter Scale, but they are disconcerting nevertheless – buildings creak, light fixtures sway, terra firma is not.

The Hayward Earthquake Fault, an staggering store of impending mayhem, breaks the earth's surface just a hundred yards or so from Wurster Hall, the building that houses my academic department at UC Berkeley. The fault line bisects memorial stadium, which is visible in the upper left of the adjacent image. A recent structural evaluation of Wurster Hall found it severely lacking.

Between 2000 and 2002 Wurster Hall, home of the College of Environmental Design, is undergoing a $26 million seismic retrofit. In these images you can see the conversion of the building's courtyard into a construction staging area and the addition of a construction elevator to the north tower. (Canon 24-mm, May 2000)

Wurster Hall emerged from the process of seismic assessment with a rating of VERY POOR. Collapse was a possibility given the right (or is it wrong?) ground motion. I was in Wurster Hall during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. This magnitude 7 event was centered over 60 miles to the southwest of Berkeley. Yet it caused the massive concrete building to rock and sway dramatically for around 20 seconds. In a word it was terrifying. So, the department was generally encouraged by the news that the building would be strengthened.

Views of Wurster Hall from the north and west -- classic examples of one-point perspective. (Canon 24-mm, May 2000)

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