Department: Structural Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Tara Hutchinson
Award(s): Honorable Mention

Primary Student
Name: Michelle Carolyn Chen
Email: mcchen@ucsd.edu
Phone: 415-297-2217
Grad Year: 2014

Student Collaborators
Xiang Wang, xiw002@ucsd.edu

To date, only a handful of full-scale building experiments have been conducted to understand and evaluate the behavior of entire structural systems. Among these, none have evaluated the post-earthquake fire performance of the complete building system and only select (in Japan) have they emphasized evaluating nonstructural component and system (NCS) response during earthquake shaking. With NCSs encompassing over 80% of the total investment in building construction, and with the majority of earthquake-induced direct losses in buildings, over the past three decades, directly attributed to NCS damage, it is essential to test and understand the behavior of NCSs in an earthquake to know how to mitigate and prevent this type of damage.

This landmark project involves earthquake and post-earthquake fire testing of a five-story building built at full-scale and completely furnished with NCSs, including a functioning passenger elevator, partition walls, cladding and glazing systems, piping, HVAC, ceiling, sprinklers, building contents, as well as passive and active fire systems. The NEES-UCSD and NEES-UCLA equipment sites combine to realize this unique opportunity and hence advance our understanding of the full-scale dynamic response and kinematic interaction of complex structural and nonstructural components and systems. Post-earthquake fire and life safety performance of both the structure and NCSs will be evaluated by conducting non-thermal and live fire testing. In addition, this project will investigate the potential for protecting critical NCSs. Specifically, the project will test the implementation of seismic isolators below the building, an important option used to protect both the building and the NCSs. The test program will include testing the base-isolated building at several ground motions before testing the fixed-base building. The results of the different testing conditions will be directly comparable. It is expected that the project will make breakthrough advances in the understanding of total seismically isolated building systems performance (isolators, structural and nonstructural systems) under seismic conditions. The addition of base isolation will provide the opportunity to identify the need for protective systems and to demonstrate the effectiveness of seismic isolation in reducing damaging effects and in improving NCS behavior in earthquakes. The experimental data will be used to validate nonlinear simulation tools, which in turn can be used for performance based seismic design.

Finally, data from this unique experiment will be used to compare with earthquake performance predictions using available commercial and research computational modeling platforms. Findings from these efforts will be immediately translated to practice.

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