A soft story building is a multi-story building with one or more floors which are “soft” due to structural design. These floors can be especially dangerous in earthquakes, because they cannot cope with the lateral forces caused by the swaying of the building during a quake. As a result, the soft story may fail, causing what is known as a soft story collapse. If you’ve ever seen pictures of massive damage after a major earthquake, you have probably seen a number of examples of soft story collapse, because it is one of the leading causes of damage to private residences.
Soft story buildings are characterized by having a story which has a lot of open space. Parking garages, for example, are often soft stories, as are large retail spaces or floors with a lot of windows. While the unobstructed space of the soft story might be aesthetically or commercially desirable, it also means that there are less opportunities to install shear walls, specialized walls which are designed to distribute lateral forces so that a building can cope with the swaying characteristic of an earthquake.
Here’s some examples of soft story buildings:
1. Ground or lower floors that have been converted into tuck-under parking without appropriate reinforcements. By design, Tuck-under parking lots have large open spaces with minimal divisions. This is a problem when the tuck-under parking floors have an insufficient number of load-bearing walls.
2. Ground or lower floors turned into office floors, where individual offices are divided by glass partitions. Again, this is a problem when the floors have an insufficient number of load-bearing walls.
3. Ground or lower floors with sweeping, floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Yep, you guessed it, it’s a problem. It may look pretty but when the floors have an insufficient number of load-bearing walls, you’re gonna have earthquake issues.
To get started today or for more information, contact us today to schedule a FREE on-site inspection by our team of soft-story experts or call us now at (818)287-8002.
Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2019.