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describe soft story effect in buildings under earthquake events

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THE STRUCTURAL DESIGN OF TALL BUILDINGS

Struct. Design Tall Build. 9, 385–390 (2000)

SOFT STORIES—AN APPROPRIATE CHOICE FOR FAILURE THEORY

ADRIAN S. SCARLAT

Scarlat, Satchi & Assoc. Eng., Ltd.; Faculty of Civil Engineering, Technion, Haifa, Israel

SUMMARY

A critical review of the of the present approach to the soft story effect during major earthquakes leads to the conclusion that any method based on the usual ﬁrst theory of failure (assuming that the failure occurs due to high normal stresses) is not adequate and can not predict the failure of soft stories. It is shown that only a theory of failure based on strain energy can lead to reasonable results. Since an accurate analysis based on such theory needs the failure strain energy of the structure to be deﬁned, and such a deﬁnition is not yet available, an approximate procedure based on strain energy, is proposed. The proposed procedure is applied to rigid structures based on pile foundations. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

1.

INTRODUCTION

The problem of soft stories has been dealt with fairly recently. Up to 1971 the soft story concept was unknown; it was deﬁned and developed only after analysing the results of the San Fernando earthquake. Moreover, prior to this earthquake specialists in seismic engineering were convinced that designing soft stories was legitimate and beneﬁcial for structures, leading to signiﬁcant smaller seismic forces due to the resulting enhanced deformability. Inspection of the results of other major earthquakes leads to the inescapable conclusion that soft stories sustain severe damage during earthquakes, often resulting in collapse. A soft story is deﬁned in the Californian seismic code SEAOC (1996) as ‘one in which the lateral stiffness is less than 70% of the lateral stiffness of the story immediately above’. The penalty required for designing structures with soft stories is very stiff: we have to design the soft story itself, and the adjoining ones, to resist stresses yielded by the regular design multiplied by a factor depending upon the ductility of the structure and varying approximately between 3 and 4. Similar requirements are included in other seismic codes, including the Israeli Seismic Code 413/95. Several objections regarding this penalty can be formulated: (a) that seismic codes do not clarify the concept of ‘lateral stiffness’ and how to determine it—and this lacuna leads to several interpretations that yield different results; (b) that the required penalty has, as far as we know, no theoretical, experimental or statistical basis; (c) that the ‘multiplying factor’ is the same for any given situation, e.g. either for differences in lateral stiffness of 30 or for 70%—and that this is unacceptable.

2. THEORETICAL APPROACH TO THE DESIGN OF SOFT STORIES

The problem of soft stories derives from a paradox. In order to deﬁne it, we shall refer to a shear wall

* Correspondence to: Adrian S. Scarlat, Israeli Association for Earthquakes Engineering, 5, Tfutzot Israel St., Givataym 53583, Israel.

Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Received

March 2000

Accepted April 2000

386

A. S. SCARLAT

Figure 1. Shear wall with a soft story

belonging to a given structure (Figure 1(a)), subjected to a set of horizontal seismic forces. We assume that these forces have been determined either by a ‘static force procedure’ or by modal analysis. The shear wall has a soft story. Figure 1(b) shows the diagram M (bending moments). We assume that all the sections of the considered shear wall (including the sections of the soft story) have been correctly proportioned to resist the given seismic loads. In spite of this, during a major earthquake the resisting elements of the soft story will display signiﬁcant damages, leading sometimes to collapse. It is obvious that something is at fault either in the structural analysis or in the proportioning of the resisting elements of the soft story. Since the resultant stresses acting in the cross sections of this story derive from equilibrium equations they cannot be suspected; even if we assume a sudden increase in seismic loads along the soft story, they will not signiﬁcantly affect the resultant stresses existing in it. We have to admit that the usual proportioning of the cross sections of the soft story (based on the ‘ﬁrst theory of failure’, referring to the normal stresses) is a model that is not adequate for designing soft stories. We must therefore look for another model, which will be based on a function exhibiting a sudden increase along the soft story. The strain energy

U

M ^{2} dx 2EI

fV ^{2} dx 2GA

N ^{2} dx 2EA

M ^{2} dx 2EI

1

answers this condition: along the soft story, the diagram U registers a sudden increase that ﬁts exactly the model we are looking for (Figure 1(c)). Consequently, we consider that the failure theory ﬁt for soft stories subjected to seismic loads must be an energetic one. The proportioning condition will take the form:

2

where U denotes the strain energy due to the given seismic loads and U _{f} denotes the strain energy at failure. We have to remind ourselves that the choice of an appropriate theory of failure must be decided by taking into account exclusively the concordance of the formulas yielded by the chosen theory and the experimental results. For instance, in the design of welded connections in steel structures we frequently use the “fourth theory of failure”. The author is not aware of any proposal to obtain the strain energy at failure (U _{f} ). It is obviously a difﬁcult task to ﬁnd such an expression: it has to take into account the cyclic character of the seismic forces and the repeated incursions of the material into the inelastic range; the validity of the expression of U _{f} has to be checked by tests, and these needs a long time to perform. Meanwhile we have to ﬁnd an approximate method that preserves the energetic approach to the problem, but provides a simple form, so that it can be used in practical design as a temporary solution.

U U _{f}

Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Struct. Design Tall Build. 9, 385–390 (2000)

SOFT STORIES AND FAILURE THEORY

387

3. PROPOSAL FOR AN APPROXIMATE ENERGETIC APPROACH

We assume that the elastic strain energy can be used. In fact, all the usual seismic analyses are based on the assumption that the material remains in the elastic range; the unavoidable incursions in the inelastic range are taken into account by using correction coefﬁcients depending mainly on the structural ductility (e.g. the coefﬁcient R _{w} in the SEAOC code). We propose a simpliﬁed procedure based on the following criteria.

The approach has to be essentially energetic (Scarlat 1996, 1997); in fact we shall use the strain energy as ‘indicator’. It has to deﬁne a factor c, intended to multiply the ‘regular resultant stresses’ (yielded by the usual analysis) in order to obtain the ﬁnal resultant stresses for the proportioning of the resisting elements of the soft stories. The factor c has to be ‘progressive’—i.e. its value must be proportional to the ‘degree of irregularity’ of the soft story.

We choose as a measure of the ‘soft story effect’ the parameter = U _{0} /U _{t}_{o}_{p} , where U _{0} denotes the strain energy of the soft story and U _{t}_{o}_{p} represents the strain energy of the story immediately above. We consider two extreme cases.

The best case, in which the decrease in lateral stiffness of the considered story is nil

2

0

(I 0 = I top ) : min = ^{} M

2

dx ^{} M _{t}_{o}_{p} dx; the corresponding multiplying factor c will be c _{m}_{i}_{n} = 1.

The worst case, in which the decrease in lateral stiffness is maximum. A reasonable limit for this decrease can be set forth as: I _{m}_{a}_{x} /I _{m}_{i}_{n} = 4 (we assume that a higher ratio would be a malpractice), so

that _{m}_{a}_{x} = 4 _{m}_{i}_{n} . The corresponding multiplying factor c can be admitted, for the time being, as equal to the present one recommended in the seismic codes. In the Californian code SEAOC (1996):

c _{m}_{a}_{x} = 3R _{w} /8; in the Israeli code: c _{m}_{a}_{x} = 0 6K, where R _{w} and K denote factors depending mainly on the degree of ductility of the structure. As shown before, in most cases c _{m}_{a}_{x} = 3–4. Between c _{m}_{i}_{n} and c _{m}_{a}_{x} we admit a linear interpolation (Figure 2).

Numerical example

Let’s consider the shear wall shown in Figure 3(a), subjected to a horizontal, inverted triangular seismic load. I _{0} = 1 6 m ^{4} ; I _{t}_{o}_{p} = 5 4 m ^{4} .

U _{0} U _{t}_{o}_{p}

2

0

M

dx

2

M _{t}_{o}_{p} dx I _{t}_{o}_{p} I _{0}

3

Figure 2. Determining the multiplying factor c

Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Struct. Design Tall Build. 9, 385–390 (2000)

388

A. S. SCARLAT

Figure 3. Numerical example

For a linear diagram M (Figure 3(b)): ^{} M ^{2} dx l 3 M

min ^{} M

6 84.

1 2 M

2 M _{1} M _{2} . For the best case:

2

0

dx ^{} M _{t}_{o}_{p} dx 10800000 6324750 1 71. For the worst case: _{m}_{a}_{x} = 4 _{m}_{i}_{n} =

2

2

10800000 1 6 6324750 5 4 5 76

By interpolation: c = 3 37.

4

4. A SPECIAL CASE: STRUCTURES ON PILE FOUNDATIONS

At ﬁrst glance, pile foundations and especially those sustaining shear walls and cores, seem to be an ideal illustration of soft stories and, consequently, represent a weak point in seismic structures: a group of deformable piles beneath a very rigid structure. In fact, the problem is more intricate and we have to consider the pile—soil complex and their relative rigidities in order to quantify correctly the effect of the soft story at the superstructure/pile foundation interface. We have also to take into account the fact that the soft story effect in the case of the piles is signiﬁcantly less dangerous than the same effect occurring in the superstructure: in the ﬁrst case, the presence of the surrounding soil limits the deformations of the damaged piles, while in the second case the onset of plastic articulations at the extremities of the vertical resisting elements leads to the collapse of the soft story. Moreover, in the Japanese technical literature is cited a case where the collapse of piles during a major earthquake was not noticed for more than 20 years, although other earthquakes have since been registered (this case was presented by Professor Hamada at the National Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Istanbul 1992). We assume that the collapse of the piles acted as a ‘natural damper’ for the building, by limiting the seismic forces transmitted to the superstructure Scarlat (1998). We have performed a parametric study of foundation piles in order to check the main factors affect the distribution of the strain energy, stored as a result of seismic forces. The main results are as follows.

(a) |
Most of the strain energy is stored in the surrounding soil and only a small fraction is stored in the piles themselves. |

(b) |
The fraction of the energy stored in the soil as a result of vertical displacements of the piles is greater than the fraction resulting from the horizontal displacements. |

(c) |
The strain energy stored in the piles increases when: (a) the soil is soft; (b) the soil in the upper layers is not compacted; and (c) the pile diameters are small. |

Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Struct. Design Tall Build. 9, 385–390 (2000)

SOFT STORIES AND FAILURE THEORY

389

When all these factors are present, the onset of a strong soft story effect will probably occur; when the soil is stiff, the upper layers well compacted, and the pile diameters large, then the effect of a soft story is practically negligible. In order to quantify the ‘soft story effect’ (i.e. the magnitude of the multiplying factor) we shall again apply a procedure based on determining two extreme situations.

The best case, when we assume a very stiff soil (e.g. a subgrade modulus k _{s} = 100 000 kN m ^{} ^{3} , including the top layers, and large diameter piles, e.g. 1 50 m). For this case, we determine the ratio = U _{p} /U _{s}_{w} , where U _{s}_{w} denotes the strain energy stored in the shear wall/core along the height h _{0} of the ground ﬂoor: U _{}_{} ^{} M _{}_{} dx 2EI _{}_{} , and U _{p} denotes the strain energy stored in the piles, at the

2

same height h _{0} U _{}

M

2

dx 2EI _{} ; for this case we can admit c _{m}_{i}_{n} = 1.

The worst case, when we assume a very soft soil (e.g. k _{s} = 10 000 kN m ^{} ^{3} ), uncompacted top layer (k _{s} 0) and small diameter piles (e.g. 0 40 m), and we determine for it the ratio = U _{p} /U _{s}_{w} ; here we can admit c _{m}_{a}_{x} = 2 5. Regarding this value, we have to refer to previous remark—that the onset of

the soft story effect in the piles is less dangerous than the same effect occurring in the superstructure, and consequently it seems reasonable to choose a maximum multiplying factor c _{m}_{a}_{x} smaller than the maximum factor chosen for the superstructure (3–4). For a given case, we have to determine the ratio and consequently the factor c, by interpolation (Figure 4).

Numerical example

Let us consider the structure shown in Figure 5(a), subjected to a horizontal, inverted triangular seismic load. Shear wall: EI _{s}_{w} = … = 32 000 000 kN m ^{2} . The static analysis yields the bending moments shown in Figure 5(b) along the height h _{0} of the ground ﬂoor, leading to the strain energy U _{s}_{w} = … = 121 kN m.

Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Figure 4. Structure on pile foundation

Struct. Design Tall Build. 9, 385–390 (2000)

390

A. S. SCARLAT

Figure 5. Structure on pile foundation—Numerical example

The best case: k _{s} = 100 000 kN m ^{} ^{3} , including the top layers; pile diameters: 1 50 m. The distance

between springs: 1 0 m; the spring forces: k _{v} k _{h} = 100 000 1 0 1 50 = 150 000 kN m ^{} ^{1} . Two piles: EI _{p} = … = 2 3450 000 kN m ^{2} = 6900 000 kN m ^{2} . The static analysis yields the bending moments along the height h _{0} = 3 0 m shown in Figure 5(e), leading to the strain energy: U _{p} = … = 1 25 kN m. _{m}_{i}_{n} = 1 25/121 = 0 01. The worst case: k _{s} = 10 000 kN m ^{} ^{2} . The top layers (along 2 0 m) are uncompacted: k _{s} 0; pile diameters: 0 40 m. The static analysis leads to the bending moments shown in Figure 5(d) and,

consequently, the strain energy

The given structure: k _{s} = 20 000 kN m ^{} ^{3} along the whole length of the piles; pile diameters: 0 60 m.

The static analysis yields the bending moments shown in Figure 5(e) and, consequently, the strain energy U _{p} = … = 61 7 kN m. = 61 7/121 = 0 51. By interpolation (Figure 5(f)): c = 1 41.

U p

= 221 kN m. _{m}_{a}_{x} = 221/121 = 1 81.

5.

CONCLUSION

Analysis of soft stories (SEAOC, 1996) based on energetic theory of failure is recommended. However, since it needs preliminary determination of the strain energy at failure, an alternative approximate procedure is set forth, also based on energy. Special attention is focused on the case of rigid structures based on pile foundations; a parametric study allows one to identify cases when the soft story effect occurs.

REFERENCES

Scarlat A. 1996. Approximate Methods in Structural Seismic Design. Chapman & Hall. Scarlat A. 1997. Design of soft stories. Earthquake Spectra 13(2). Scarlat A. 1998. Pile foundation used as a natural seismic damper. Proceedings of the 6th SECED Conference on Seismic Design Practice, Balkema. SEAOC. 1996. Recommended lateral forces requirements and commentaries.

Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Struct. Design Tall Build. 9, 385–390 (2000)

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