Portland, Ore., is home to more than 1,600 unreinforced masonry buildings, considered one of the most dangerous types of earthquake-vulnerable construction. The city has struggled to pass meaningful legislation to address this public safety risk, but that has not prevented some owners from taking the lead to protect their customers, employees and residents while preserving the city’s historic fabric. Four buildings—a low-income apartment complex, non-profit headquarters, luxury hotel and mixed-use building—have been awarded US Resiliency Council Silver Ratings. They make the case that seismically retrofitting masonry buildings can be cost-effective, sensitive to history and good business, as well.
The public is welcomed to acknowledge these buildings’ owners for their leadership on July 17, 10 a.m., at the site of one of the buildings: The Society Hotel, 203 NW 3rd Ave., Portland.
The Society Hotel
This 4-story, 1881 building was seismically retrofitted in 2014. The boutique Chinatown hotel was originally a refuge for sailors on ports-of-call and later part of the Portland Hospital. The seismic retrofit was mostly paid for by the tax credit the developer received for the historic preservation of the hotel.
Owner: Keymar LLC, dba The Society Hotel Engineer: DCI Engineers
Architect: Integrate Architecture and Planning
Martha Washington Apartments
This 4-story building was built in 1917 and seismically retrofitted in 2010. The building serves at-risk populations with annual incomes that do not exceed 60 percent of area median income.
Owner: Home Forward
Engineer: Catena Consulting Engineers
Architect: LRS Architects
Plow Works Building
This 4-story building in the Central Eastside Industrial District was built in 1908 and seismically retrofitted in 2013. The historic mixed-use building serves creative and professional office users, as well as two upscale restaurants. The original user of the building was Oliver Chilled Plow Works, a farm equipment manufacturer. The building also held numerous light industrial uses.
Owner: CEID Holdings LLC
Engineer: BKE Structural Engineers
Architect: John Cooley Architect
Mercy Corps Headquarters
This 4-story building was built in 1890 and seismically retrofitted in 2007. The building houses a non-profit with the mission of alleviating suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
Owner: Mercy Corps
Engineer: ABHT Structural Engineers
Architect: Hacker Architects
The US Resiliency Council’s mission is to improve community resilience, one building at a time. Through its building rating system and public education programs, USRC is raising awareness about the vulnerability of our built environment in natural disasters and that true sustainability requires not only our buildings have a low impact on the environment, but that the environment have a low impact on our buildings. The USRC rating system delivers meaningful information on the expected safety, damage and recovery of the buildings in which we live and work.
Properties that receive high USRC ratings will benefit from an increase in perceived value, potentially increasing leasing rates and transaction efficiency—the same kind of benefits associated with LEED accredited properties.
Building owners use USRC ratings to better understand the performance of their most valuable assets and identify cost-effective strategies to manage risk.
Tenants value the USRC rating as part of their due diligence when making decisions about leasing space as it relates to safety and recovery time following an earthquake.
Lenders and insurers use USRC ratings to inform real-estate transactions and lending decisions, as well as to define insurance products.
Governments and institutions use USRC ratings to identify safe buildings and implement long-term strategic plans for reducing risk and speeding recovery following a major disaster.
Architects can now use USRC ratings to achieve USGBC Resilience Credits through the LEED and new RELi standards.
What Does a USRC Rating Deliver?
The USRC system provides rating users with greater confidence in a building performance evaluation by delivering:
- Consistency: Only certified engineers are able to submit applications for a USRC rating.
- Credibility: Rating submissions undergo a technical audit by certified reviewers.
- Value: Users receive actionable information about building safety, repair cost and recovery time.
To learn more about the US Resiliency Council, and how it can help your organization improve resilience through its Building Rating System, contact Executive Director Evan Reis and visit USRC’s website.