DRC-Disaster Research Center

Active Studies

NEES-SG. NEESWood: Development of a Performance-Based Seismic Design Philosophy for Mid-Rise Woodframe Construction

Principal Investigators: Rachel Davidson (Co-PI) (with John van de Lindt (PI); Andre Filiatrault (Co-PI), David Rosowsky(Co-PI), Michael Symans(Co-PI)
Current Graduate Research Assistants: Greg Black
Funding Agencies:National Science Foundation(NSF), Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Program

Study Description

While woodframe structures have historically performed well with regard to life safety in regions of moderate to high seismicity, these low-rise structures have sustained significant structural and non-structural damage in recent earthquakes. The height of woodframe construction is currently limited to approximately four stories, due to the lack of understanding of the dynamic response of taller (mid-rise) woodframe construction, non-structural limitations such as material fire requirements, and potential damage considerations for non-structural finishes. Current building code requirements for engineered wood construction around the world are not based on a global seismic design philosophy. Instead, wood elements are designed independently of each other without consideration of the influence that their stiffness and strength have on the other structural components of the structural system. Furthermore, load paths in woodframe construction arising during earthquake shaking are not well understood. These factors, rather than economic considerations, have limited the use of wood to low-rise construction and have reduced the economical competitiveness of the wood industry in the United States and abroad relative to the steel and concrete industries. This project will develop a performance-based seismic design (PBSD) philosophy to safely increase the height of woodframe structures in active seismic zones of the United States as well as mitigating damage to low-rise woodframe structures. NEESWood will provide a seminal advancement in seismic design of woodframe construction as well as the full-scale seismic testing of structural systems including dynamic distributed testing between two sites. When this challenge is successfully met, mid-rise woodframe construction may be an economic option in seismic regions around the United States and the world.