How can I have my historic structure seismically retrofitted while maintain the historic character of the building?
By Katie Kissling, Field Services Program Manager
Living in Hawai‘i earthquakes are a possibility and it is important to ensure that historic structures are safe and that they will continue to stand for future generations to enjoy. Making a building safer in the event of an earthquake does not have to compromise the historic integrity of the building. The National Park Service put out a Preservation Brief, The Seismic Retrofit of Historic Buildings: Keeping Preservation in the Forefront, that provides detailed information about how to properly retrofit your historic building while maintain its’ historic character. http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/briefs/brief41.htm
The Brief notes that there are some important preservation principles to keep in mind:
- Historic materials should be preserved and retained to the greatest extent possible and not replaced wholesale in the process of seismic strengthening;
- New seismic retrofit systems, whether hidden or exposed, should respect the character and integrity of the historic building and be visually compatible with it in design; and,
- Seismic work should be “reversible” to the greatest extent possible to allow removal for future use of improved systems and traditional repair of remaining historic materials.
When undertaking a seismic retrofit project it is important to assemble the right team of professionals who can help you to assess the needs of the building and undertake the project in a way that is sensitive to the historic character of the structure. A retrofit project that maintains the historic character of the building can be done, but requires proper planning to help ensure a good outcome. If you are thinking about seismically retrofitting your historic building Historic Hawai‘i Foundation maintains a list of Preservation Professionals and their areas of expertise. This resource may be helpful in assembling a team for your project. http://www.historichawaii.org/n_04_directory.html