Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Building 50 Seismic Renovation

Berkeley, California | civic & academic, science & health

A seismic retrofit brings a dated building up to speed without disruption. Innovative seismic solutions also save precious floor space.

The University of California operates Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. Building 50 is a three-story, cast-in-place concrete structure originally constructed in the 1940s. The 45,534-square-foot building houses primarily office and administrative functions with an auditorium and some workshop spaces. The university asked for a renovation scheme that did not require the tenants to relocate during construction.

Our solution to seismically upgrading the building was to “jacket” the exterior with new shear walls. Noisy operations (like drilling the exterior wall for new shear wall anchors) were scheduled after hours. Several innovative solutions – such as carbon fiber reinforcement – were used to upgrade interior elements where more conventional solutions like shear walls or braces would have usurped precious floor space or significantly disrupted occupants.

Quick Facts

A rotating museum display in Building 50’s main lobby features materials related to LBNL’s scientific legacy, including the original wood desk used by American physicist Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1939.

To minimize noise impacts to building occupants from dowel drilling and shotcrete placement at the building’s exterior concrete walls, building occupants were provided with noise-canceling headphones.

A three-story 16″ thick concrete “jacket” was wrapped around portions of Building 50’s cast-in-place exterior concrete walls to bring the building up to code.