Preserving History, Ensuring Safety: Creative Seismic Strengthening Solutions at Historic Benson Polytechnic

Room: E141-142

Audience: Engineers

Call to Action: Following this presentation, attendees will gain the capability to implement a variety of distinct seismic strengthening measures tailored for historic unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings, thereby enabling our cherished school heritage to evolve and thrive over the next century. Participants will acquire insights into the financial considerations associated with retrofitting URM structures using diverse solutions, empowering them to tailor their designs effectively for forthcoming historic retrofit initiatives. Moreover, attendees will grasp the invaluable lessons learned and anticipate potential challenges encountered during the retrofitting process of historic buildings, equipping them with crucial knowledge for future preservation endeavors.

Abstract: Benson Polytechnic High School is renowned for its prominent location within the city of Portland, its collection of historic buildings, and its dedication to Career and Technical Education. We were tasked with implementing seismic upgrades for multiple distinct historic buildings spanning various eras and constructed with a diverse range of building materials. Several buildings were constructed with unreinforced masonry which is quite vulnerable to failure in earthquakes as demonstrated in the Christchurch earthquake of 2011. While our approach to each building shared common themes, addressing their seismic vulnerabilities demanded inventive and individualized solutions. In this presentation, we will offer an overview of the diverse strategies employed at each building, present unique structural solutions applicable to future projects, and share valuable insights gleaned for upcoming endeavors.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Gain insight into diverse retrofit solutions suitable for unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings.
  2. Comprehend potential diaphragm strengthening techniques applicable to seismic upgrades.
  3. Understand the foundation improvements necessary for effective seismic enhancements.
  4. Familiarize oneself with various cost variables to enhance the economy of design.
Kevin Nadolny
Kevin Nadolny
Associate, KPFF Consulting Engineers

Kevin, a structural engineer with 18 years of experience, is an associate at KPFF Consulting Engineers. Notably, he served as the project manager for the historic renovation of Grant High School, which earned first place in the Oregon DJC Top Projects in Primary Education. Presently, Kevin leads the structural design efforts for various prominent projects, including Benson Polytechnic High School, Benson Multiple Pathways to Graduation, and the modernization of Cleveland High School.

Core Competency

Design of Educational Facilities
Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232


October 16-19, 2024


+1 480.391.0840