Seismic Retrofit and Repair of Unreinforced Masonry

Helen Swindells URM building site visitIn Portland, IMI is staying in front of issues regarding unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings. These structures, many historic, have character-defining exterior wall construction of the late-19th-and-early 20th-century, but are vulnerable to seismic damage and pose a risk to public safety. URMs suffer from common types of building deterioration. Much of what is considered visible deterioration can be attributed to factors like how the brick was manufactured and used within the construction, associated building materials/features, exposure to weather, and previous maintenance or repair.

URM building with braced parapetUnder the direction of the Portland City Council, the URM Building Policy Committee developed a policy recommendation that, if adopted, will mandate a limited seismic retrofit program for the city. Helen Swindells building in Portland, OR (photo above) has undergone parapet bracing (photo below).

Quality repair and restoration efforts will help preserve URMs and other masonry buildings, which are a critical part of Portland’s fabric. IMI has developed a presentation that provides insight into common types of deterioration and material behavior along with specific intervention methods and materials that may be appropriate and sympathetic to the original materials. This program focuses on understanding the rationale and methodology for condition assessment and the repair and restoration of historic brick masonry buildings.If you are interested in having IMI give the presentation to your group, contact Amy for more information.

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