Gruening Middle School Earthquake Recovery

  • Location Anchorage, AK
  • Owner Anchorage School District
  • Recovery Trifecta

    A three-pronged approach to bringing students back to Gruening Middle School.

  • New Technology for the State

    First use of fabric reinforced cementitious matrix in Alaska.

Safer and Stronger. Following the November 30, 2018 (M7.1) earthquake, Gruening Middle School in Eagle River was damaged, displacing nearly 500 students and staff. Anchorage School District (ASD) needed to repair the school as quickly as possible. Due to the damage from the earthquake, Gruening was shut down for almost three years for earthquake repair. The Gruening Middle School Earthquake Recovery Project was an important effort by the ASD to repair and upgrade the almost 40-year-old school.

ASD separated the project into three parts to accommodate multiple sources of funding: earthquake repair, seismic mitigation, and programming upgrades. Reid Middleton provided repair design of structural items damaged during the earthquake, design of structural upgrades per ASCE 41, and design of new structural elements, such as mechanical penthouses and mezzanines. To address deficiencies in the masonry and reinforcement, Reid Middleton and ASD elected to use Simpson Strong-Tie (Simpson) fabric reinforced cementitious matrix (FRCM) on all existing CMU walls within the building. FRCM combines a high-performance sprayable mortar with a carbon-fiber grid to create a thin structural layer that does not add significant weight or volume to the project. FRCM had never been used in Alaska prior to this project. Reid Middleton and the Simpson engineers worked closely during both the design and construction phases to ensure that the installation went smoothly.

Students returned to Gruening Middle School on August 17, 2021. At the ribbon cutting, students proudly gave tours of their revitalized school, a school that has been upgraded to get A+ marks on the next earthquake pop-quiz.

**Hero image copyright: Kevin G. Smith


Copyright: Kevin G. Smith