SERA worked with Washington County to provide seismic upgrades and building improvements to the Charles D. Cameron Public Services Building. The building, completed in 1990, is a hub for county agencies and serves a high volume of citizens who enter the building on a daily basis. SERA’s design goal was to provide a solution that was visible to the public and improves the building’s seismic performance.
Through a workshop process with structural engineer KPFF, the team provided county staff with a common language for discussing levels of seismic strengthening. The team chose a seismic performance upgrade that will meet “immediate occupancy” during a 500 year earthquake and “life safety” during a 2,500 year earthquake. The seismic upgrade uses shear walls on the exterior corners of building to “bookend” the existing brick and precast concrete to preserve the look of the building, clearly showing citizens the improvements made using public funds.
This exterior approach allowed SERA to address the seismic needs and provide additional benefits, such as allowing the building to be upgraded while minimizing the interruption for people working inside. Additionally, the County requested that the project mitigate water intrusion issues at the basement level. Constructing the exterior shear walls and addressing the water mitigation required removing soil from the base of the building. SERA leveraged this work into designing terraces and a plaza, turning the former basement into a new ground floor with windows to bring daylight and views into the offices improving the workspace. This solution also allows for a new exterior program space that can showcase ground and stormwater management to those coming to the building for construction permits.