Published: 30 June 2014
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Cite this document
Intelligent building rehabilitation initiatives can play an important role in saving the world. Through an approach of thoughtful assessment, targeted building envelope repair development, and collaborative execution, the Richmond Civic Center project demonstrates the potential economic, environmental, and cultural virtues of successful building rehabilitation. Consisting of City Hall, Hall of Justice, and Auditorium Buildings, the Richmond Civic Center Complex opened in 1951 to serve the San Francisco Bay Area ship-building community of Richmond, CA. Constructed of full-wythe brick cladding over a reinforced-concrete structural backup, these three cold war-era municipal buildings and designated bomb shelters were robust buildings designed to serve their communities and help withstand the unthinkable. The cold war thawed, but the ravages of wind and rain eventually took their toll, leading to widespread leakage and a general state of disrepair. Despite calls by some to raze the buildings, City Officials wisely embarked on an ambitious plan to completely rehabilitate and modernize the existing building complex. However, many of the existing brick façade issues were not well understood, requiring detailed engineering analysis and extensive field testing in order to develop appropriate repairs. Likewise, water testing aided in the diagnosis of deficient-window leakage and flashing details stemming from the original design and construction. Test pits at the foundation revealed failed below-grade waterproofing. As part of the overall modernization, the building envelope was repaired, including roofing and window replacement, brick repairs, and the installation of a new below-grade waterproofing system. Data collected from the completed project illustrates how today’s best diagnostic and design practices can be used to effectively preserve our existing building stock and benefit society as a whole.
Mendygral, James E.
Senior Project Manager, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., San Francisco, CA
Searls, Carolyn L.
Senior Principal, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., San Francisco, CA