NISQUALLY EARTHQUAKE OF 28 FEBRUARY 2001
DAMAGE TO THE 1923 LEGISLATIVE BUILDINGS,
STATE CAPITOL COMPLEX
CLICK ON EACH PHOTO TO ENLARGE
1) Front facade of the Legislative Building, the principal building in the State Capitol complex. The earthquake damage was principally in the domed central tower. Scaffolding installed to access and stabilize the columns is visible on the left side.
2-4) Photographs showing the original construction of the Legislative building show clearly that this building does not contain a steel frame. It is interesting to compare this with the construction phtos of the San Francisco City Hall, which was constructed 10 years earlier, right after the 1906 earthquake destroyed its predecessor. The SF. City Hall contains a complete steel frame. (Its ca. 1880 predecessor contained a steel frame only under the dome, which caused it to act as a reverse pendulum that served to knock down the surrounding building.)
Two views of the San Francisco City Hall under construction ca. 1912, showing the steel frame prior and during its cladding with its granite and terra cotta architectural skin. The interesting historical fact about the comparison with this with the Washington Legislative Building is that both were constructed in an earthquake area within a generation of the 1906 devastating San Francisco Earthquake, yet while one has a complete steel frame, following a construction tradition which began in Chicago in the 1880's, the other reverts to the prior unreinforced masonry tradition which dates back to the ancient world. With the exception of the reinforced concrete cone between the inner and outer domes, and other discrete insertions of steel, the Legislative building consists of unreinforced masonry bearing wall construction.
10) A view looking up between the inner dome visible in photo #5 and the reinforced concrete cone that is between the inner and the exterior domes. This concrete cone supports the cupola atop the outer dome, . 11) A view of the interior of the cone standing on the top of the brick interior dome. The mechanism in the foreground is the winch that was used to lower the main chandelier for re-lamping. It is no longer in service, thus making it necessary to build a scaffold to the chandelier to change the light bulbs!
12-15) Views up between the brick inner face of the outer dome, and the reinforced concrete cone. The whole interior appearance seemed like being inside an abandoned power plant. The reinforced concrete cone does serve to resist the outward thrust of the inner dome, in spite of the fact that it is not connected at the base by more than the weight of gravity.
16) View looking up at exterior columns which shifted in the earthquake - thus leading to the installation of steel ties to ensure that they do not fall over. They are solid granite. 17) The exterior face of the dome, showing it terracotta exterior surface, as viewed from the cupola.
18-19) Exterior and interior views of the Cupola, which is structurally supported by the hidden reinforced concrete cone, rather than the dome itself. It was damaged in the previous earthquake, and rebuilt. It was damages lightly in this earthquake again.
20-22) Hidden interiors of the masonry walls surrounding the dome and rotunda - which serve as buttresses to the tower structure. 20) shows a crack, Some of these cracks merely opened wider from damage in the previous earthquake. The image on the right shows the steel armature which was installed after the last earthquake as strengthening.
23) View of the back of the apse of the Senate chamber. This wall is constructed of hollow clay tile, and will be replaced.
24) Plaster patterns used as models for the interior plaster pilaster capitals. These were placed after the original construction into one of the hidden wall cavities, so that they would be available in the future if needed - a fortunate bit of advance planning. 25) Stone capitals removed from the exterior to avoid the possibility of falling after they were dislodged in the earthquake.
26) Neighboring government building in the state capitol complex from the cupola of the Legislative Building.
© Randolph Langenbach
M-Arch (Harvard), Dipl.Conservation (York, England)
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