Recent earthquakes in Turkey have shown the poor seismic performance of reinforced concrete residential buildings. This led to widespread utilization of several strengthening methods, each of which is convenient in different aspects. However, what is required to apply any of these methods is to evacuate the building in question, since the interruptions are mostly within the building and to the structural members. In this article, a method is introduced for external strengthening of typical reinforced concrete buildings that represent the majority of the built environment in Turkey. The method suggests addition of shear walls, which are connected to each other by means of reinforced concrete diaphragms on two separate floor levels and to the existing external columns and floor system at corners of the building. The advantage of shear walls in seismic performance is already known; however, this article discusses the feasibility of the proposed method in terms of architectural viewpoint, since the method unavoidably covers great modifications on the architectural form of the building. As a whole, this external strengthening method provides a typical facade resemblance by means of additional structural members without emptying the building. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.