Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Historic Preservation (MHP)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Jon Marcoux

Committee Member

John Bennett

Committee Member

Laurel Bartlett

Committee Member

Barry Stiefel


The Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 was an event that greatly impacted the lives of those living in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The 6.9Mw earthquake severely damaged buildings and infrastructure, inevitably leading to the demolition of some of these structures. Older buildings constructed before modern seismic codes were most vulnerable to damage. Yet, age is the same reason many of these buildings were considered historic and valuable in their communities. In the wake of Loma Prieta, an alarming trend of the demolition of historic buildings arose.

This thesis analyzes the demolition of historic structures due to damage sustained in the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Using a case study approach, eight buildings are analyzed to understand what circumstances led to the demolition of each building, what decision-making processes led to a demolition decision, and what were the similarities and differences between the circumstances of each building.

This study found that the primary decision-making factor for the demolition of case study buildings was economic reasons. Contributing factors to demolition were related to the historic status of the building, the interpretation and implementation of laws and regulations, the will of city governments and property owners, and variations in engineering reports and cost estimation.



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