Quake-Safe Buildings

Although much of Los Angeles has recovered and learned from the Northridge earthquake, it would seem that one of the city’s premier institutions of higher learning, UCLA (which lies practically on top of the Newport-Inglewood fault), has yet to assimilate fully all the lessons that Northridge had to offer.

At the time of the quake there were a number of UCLA buildings whose seismic safety rating was listed as “poor” or “very poor.” One year later the majority of these buildings remain in this unsafe condition. Even if the university does not at present have available the funding needed to accomplish a seismic retrofitting of these buildings, it could and should prohibit their occupancy until such time that they can be brought up to code. While cramped modular classrooms may not be as pleasing to the eye as the “stately Tudor Gothic and Italian Romanesque of UCLA’s early buildings” (per the 1994-95 UCLA general catalogue), the installation of such temporary structures would greatly reduce the number of casualties in any future earthquakes. One should not be placed in a position of having to put one’s safety at risk in order to teach or study there.


Graduate Student, UCLA


* On the anniversary of the Northridge earthquake, I am reminded of my wife’s actions on that fateful morning.

As soon as the initial shaking stopped, my wife Denise bolted from bed, raced down the hallway and turned off the wailing burglar alarm. When I asked her why she risked injury going barefoot, she replied, “I didn’t want the alarm to wake the neighbors!” We still chuckle about this.

I have subsequently repaired the French window latches so they don’t pop open in any of the aftershocks.



Van Nuys