Bethany Presbyterian Church

Landmark Church on top of Queen Anne Hill gets full seismic upgrade to keep vibrant congregation safe for another 80+ years.   


The proactive leaders at Bethany had been thinking about the safety of its congregation since making repairs after the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake.  But how do you retrofit a 1929 structure with inspiring vaulted ceilings and Landmarked exteriors all while still running daily programs including a daycare/preschool?  You hire the right team.  As the initial partner with the church, ILGSE helped lead the process of selecting top architects and contractors to complete the team of experts in Preservation, Seismic Life Safety, and Retrofit Construction.            

This historic 80 year old church underwent a full seismic retrofit to the current code at the time. With sensitivity to the handsome gathering spaces and a focus on overall Life Safety, ILGSE delivered a project that addressed all the major seismic deficiencies and provided highly  beneficial energy upgrades.     

ILGSE worked closely with the architect and contractor on the design of nearly every seismic retrofit element.  All the retrofit components were carefully incorporated within floor, wall cavities and spaces away from everyday use.  The retrofit scope included bracing parapets, large chimneys, and delicate finials as well as installing roof & floor-to-wall ties. ILGSE also designed new shotcrete shearwalls, moment frames and secondary supports below the exposed heavy timber trusses in the main sanctuary.  Drag struts, roof & floor diaphragm upgrades and new insulation was also provided.
Designated a Landmark by the City of Seattle, all exterior upgrades were subject to the Landmarks Review Board.  ILGSE sharpened the pencil to provide sharp looking brace designs that passed the review board with flying colors.  The bell tower is the backbone of many church structures and Bethany Church is no different.  Shotcrete core walls provided the needed strength and stiffness that each separate wing of the building could rely on.  ILGSE designed new shear walls hidden inside existing brick buttresses for even more strength and stability.  
One of the most popular retrofit repairs with the design team was the ‘leashing’ of the gargoyles.  As one of the original areas of damage in the Nisqually quake, addressing these precious creatures was a must-have on the list.  The gargoyles were constructed of brittle 80 year old concrete and visible from the grounds and street.  ILGSE cleverly anchored these ‘puppies’ to the structure with stainless steel guy wires.  Drafting the detail was one of the memorable times for the ILGSE drafting team. 
ILGSE is proud of the work accomplished with the design partners on this project. We were happy to deliver a safer, more comfortable building to the grateful congregation to enjoy for many years to come.

Victor Martinez, Project Manager, recalls a comment from a congregation member at the re-opening service and reception.  “Man, it doesn’t look like you did anything in here at all.”  He remembers smiling and nodding with Founding Partner, Ira.  “This is everything we strive for at ILGSE.”  Safe buildings for people to enjoy.

When people ask us what exactly a structural engineering firm does, we tell them it’s really quite simple.

We keep the floors from touching.


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