High-rise flexible-frame buildings are commonly considered to be resistant to shaking from the largest earthquakes. In addition, base isolation has become increasingly popular for critical buildings that should still function after an earthquake. How will these two types of buildings perform if a large earthquake occurs beneath a metropolitan area? To answer this question, we simulated the near-source ground motions of a Mw 7.0 thrust earthquake and then mathematically modeled the response of a 20-story steel-frame building and a 3-story base-isolated building. The synthesized ground motions were characterized by large displacement pulses (up to 2 meters) and large ground velocities. These ground motions caused large deformation and possible collapse of the frame building, and they required exceptional measures in the design of the base-isolated building if it was to remain functional.