Public universities may still have unsafe buildings

March 21, 2010

More than 180 public university buildings in California–including two at Cal Poly–have been judged too dangerous to occupy during a major earthquake, according to a new investigation. [California Watch]

University officials, critics claim, have known about seismic problems with the majority of their dangerous campus buildings for five years, or more — in some cases for decades.

The CSU system appointed a Seismic Review Board in the early 1990’s to help identify possible hazardous campus structures. Many of the buildings have been repaired, but there are still 66 university buildings ranked Level V or higher, meaning either the occupants would be in danger during an earthquake, or the structure might collapse outright.

Two Cal Poly structures are listed in the investigation–Crandall Gymnasium and the Old Power House, though the report is quick to note that both buildings are currently vacant.

However, other CSU structures on the danger list include: the university library at CSU-East Bay,  Titan Gym at CSU-Fullerton, several student apartment buildings at San Francisco State, and four separate buildings at CSU-Long Beach.

The new investigation suggests that universities, operating on limited budgets, give priority to new classroom buildings, and not fixing older facilities.