The research objective of this award is to explore, simulate, and validate new seismic design concepts for light-frame residential construction that will dramatically improve its life-cycle seismic performance with minimal impact on construction costs. New strength and stiffness enhanced unibody framing systems and low-cost seismic isolation systems will be investigated to achieve cost-efficient resistance to earthquakes. In contrast to conventional seismic design practice, where large structural ductility demands can result in extensive damage to architectural and mechanical building systems, the considered systems will achieve reduced deformations and damage by integrating structural and architectural building components in a lateral system with high strength and stiffness. High-fidelity simulation models will be implemented to accurately assess the seismic performance, including models for seismic isolation and the unibody space-frame systems. Physical and computational simulations will provide the basis for new seismic design criteria for light-frame residential construction to meet appropriate collapse safety goals and incorporate life-cycle concepts to control damage and loss of building function. The research is organized around an integrated plan of quasi-static testing, shake table testing, and computational simulations of structural fasteners, subassemblies, and systems. The research team from Stanford University and California State University, Sacramento, will use the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) facilities at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Diego. Data from this project will be archived and made available to the public through the NEES Project Warehouse data repository at www.nees.org.
Much in the same way that automotive construction advanced from "body-on-frame" to "unibody" construction in the 1970's, this research has the promise to help revolutionize light-frame residential construction by integrating structural and architectural components into a unibody building system. When combined with seismic base isolation, the resulting integrated system will substantially reduce the damage and repairs due to earthquakes. Building owners, communities, and other stakeholders will benefit by the economies achieved through optimized design approaches and integrated building systems. By reducing earthquake damage, the new framing systems have the potential to dramatically improve the resilience of communities by allowing residents to "shelter-in-place" and quickly recover from large earthquakes. The project has a natural educational component through the research participation of graduate and undergraduate students and strong participation of industry through an advisory group to promote technology transfer to building codes and professional practice. This award is part of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP).