Home : Project Organization : Project Summary
Nonstructural systems represent 75% of the loss exposure of US buildings to earthquakes, and account for over 78% of the total estimated national annualized earthquake loss. A very widely used nonstructural system, which represents a significant investment, is the ceiling-piping-partition system. Past earthquakes and numerical modeling considering potential earthquake scenarios show that the damage to this system causes the preponderance of US earthquake losses.
Nevertheless, due to the lack of system-level research studies, its seismic response is poorly understood. Consequently, its seismic performance contributes to increased failure probabilities and damage consequences, loss of function, and potential for injuries. All these factors contribute to decreased seismic resilience of both individual buildings and entire communities.
Ceiling-piping-partition systems consist of several components and subsystems, have complex three-dimensional geometries and complicated boundary conditions because of their multiple attachment points to the main structure, and are spread over large areas in all directions. Their seismic response, their interaction with the structural system they are suspended from or attached to, and their failure mechanisms are not well understood.
Moreover, their damage levels and fragilities are poorly defined due to the lack of system-level experimental studies and modeling capability. Their seismic behavior cannot be dependably analyzed and predicted due to a lack of numerical simulation tools. In addition, modern protective technologies, which are readily used in structural systems, have never been applied to these systems.
This Grand Challenge project will integrate multidisciplinary system-level studies that will develop, for the first time, a simulation capability and implementation process for enhancing the seismic performance of the ceilingpiping-partition nonstructural system.
A comprehensive experimental program is proposed that will use the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and University at Buffalo (UB) NEES Equipment Sites to conduct subsystem and system-level full-scale experiments. A payload project using the E-Defense facility has been planned in coordination with Japanese researchers. Integrated with this experimental effort will be a numerical simulation program that will develop experimentally verified analytical models; establish system and subsystem fragility functions; and, develop visualization tools that will provide engineering educators and practitioners with sketchbased modeling capabilities.
Public policy investigations are designed to support the implementation of the research results.
The project is organized around a strategic plan that draws on the talents of 23 institutions around the country and collaborates closely with industry through a Practice Committee consisting of experts representing all aspects of the ceiling-piping-partition nonstructural systems. In addition to unique experimental facilities, NEES provides a valuable data archiving and exchange resource, as well as teleparticipation and modeling tools to create the necessary framework for success of such a collaborative research effort.