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University of Nevada, Reno

Hospital de San Carlos


This hospital facility was a four-story reinforced concrete structure constructed in 1998 (Figure 1). In addition to nonstructural problems, major structural damage was observed, resulting in the closing of this building. The exterior walls appeared to be made from precast concrete panels that resulted in a construction joint mid height of the first-story level and a source for large cracks on the finishing plaster after the quake (Figure 2). More importantly, three adjacent columns were badly damaged that did not appear to be confined by partial height infill or precast panels (Figure 3). It was not very clear why only three columns failed (two exterior and one interior) while the surrounding columns including corners remained intact.

Nonstructural damage was extensive including complete failure of suspended ceiling at some hallways and room (Figure 4). The ceiling tiles were made of plaster (Figure 5). File cabinets with some anchorage at top overturned (Figure 6). Some of the most consequential nonstructural damage was found in mechanical room at the roof level, which still had about a half inch of water at the time of the visit. An elevated water heater broke off from its welded supports and toppled over, leaning against a column (Figure 7). A pipe support structure became loose from its anchors and rotated almost 90 degrees. As a result of this relative motion, rigidly connecting pipes fractured at the welds and slipped out at the joint (Figure 8). Fracture at elbows was also evident in two locations of the disconnected pipes (Figure 9).

Figure 1: This hospital facility was a four-story reinforced concrete structure constructed in 1998.

Figure 2: The exterior walls appeared to be made from precast concrete panels that resulted in a construction joint mid height of the first-story level and a source for large cracks on the finishing plaster after the quake.

Figure 3: Three adjacent columns were badly damaged that did not appear to be confined by partial height infill or precast panels.

Figure 4: Nonstructural damage was extensive including complete failure of suspended ceiling at some hallways and room.

Figure 5: The ceiling tiles were made of plaster.

Figure 6: File cabinets with some anchorage at top overturned.

Figure 7: An elevated water heater broke off from its welded supports and toppled over, leaning against a column.

Figure 8: A pipe support structure became loose from its anchors and rotated almost 90 degrees. As a result of this relative motion, rigidly connecting pipes fractured at the welds and slipped out at the joint.

Figure 9: Fracture at elbows was also evident in two locations of the disconnected pipes.


Report and photos submitted by Gilberto Mosqueda
Date: March 12, 2010