|During the first 8 months of 2111, construction spending in the U.S. amounted to $511.4 billion, 3.0 percent (±1.3%) below the $527.3 billion for the same period in 2010. (Construction – US Census Bureau)|
While growth in total construction spending and commercial construction spending in particular remain somewhat weak, several construction bright spots appear in California including the seismic reconstruction of hospitals. For example, three large hospital re-build projects are well under way in Oakland, with an estimated cumulative price tag of $2 billion or more, the biggest construction jobs in the city. The projects — an estimated $1 billion rebuild of Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center and related structures, the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s new $350 million in-patient tower, and a $668 million new in-patient tower and other enhancements and reconfigurations at the Alameda County Medical Center Highland Hospital — will upgrade three of the city’s leading hospitals. This construction is largely state-mandated before 2013 through seismic legislation in hospital seismic compliance senate bills introduced following damage to hospitals in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and several earlier California earthquakes. The California laws (SB1953, SB1661, SB499) require retrofit or reconstruction of hospitals to prevent collapse and loss of life and provide continued operation without significant loss of function after a credible earthquake. The seismic qualification of electrical and mechanical equipment and supports and attachments (non-structural equipment) is also mandated for California hospitals. Some of this qualification-testing work for large equipment is done at the University of California at Berkeley earthquake engineering laboratories on the UCB Richmond Field Station.