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NEES@Berkeley releases video highlights of experiments on nonstructural building cladding systems and residential seismic isolation

Kurt McMullin's research explores seismic damage to three different nonstructural systems: precast concrete cladding, inset windows, and vertical plumbing risers.

Primary test objectives include defining component and system force-deformation relationships, quantifying damage events with applied drift, evaluation of a robotic plumbing inspection system, and qualitative understanding of the behavior of façade systems.

Eduardo Miranda of Stanford investigates inexpensive seismic isolation methods for residential buildings.

Off-the-shelf sliding materials were tested pseudostatically to determine the friction-velocity relationship of slider and sliding surface combinations.

Video highlights of recent tests at the nees@berkeley lab, including investigations on nonstructural building components performance, and the possibility of an affordable seismic isolation system for residential construction, are now available.

Kurt McMullin, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at San Jose State University, investigated the performance of drift-sensitive nonstructural systems primarily precast concrete façades at the nees@berkeley labs as part of the “Pathways Project.” A series of six full-scale experiments were conducted to verify the performance and behavior of modern construction design under seismic loading and pseudo-dynamic simulations.

“The results of the research was very good,” McMullen said. “They really verified that the modern designs performed very well. The slotted connections slid as we expected them to. There was very little damage to the architectural cladding.”

Stanford Associate Professor Eduardo Miranda and graduate student Ezra Jampole tested an inexpensive seismic isolation system meant to reduce the susceptibility of light frame construction to seismic shaking.

Seismic isolation systems, in which structures are isolated from ground motion, have been used for tall buildings and large facilities over the past decade, but the technology has been prohibitively expensive for lightweight residential construction. Focusing on the use and performance of off-the-shelf sliding materials, the investigators tested harmonically and dynamically with recorded ground motions at the nees@berkeley lab. The investigators concluded that the use of high-friction materials resulted in smaller displacements, which would allow smaller building footings, keeping expenses low.

“The testing at nees@berkeley has allowed us to confirm what our harmonic test at Stanford University had led us to believe,” Jampole said, “and more importantly to calibrate our models of how these would perform during an earthquake.”

Filmed interviews with the San Jose State and Stanford researchers have been overlaid with footage from several of the tests, and is now available for viewing on PEER's YouTube Channel:

These experimental research tests at nees@berkeley are part of projects titled “Pathways Project: Experimental Determination of Performance of Drift-Sensitive Nonstructural Systems under Seismic Loading” and "Seismically Isolated Unibody Light-frame Structures for Enhanced Lifecycle Performance, Phase 1: Isolator Testing," funded by NEES-R awards with support from George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

More information about the projects can be found at the nees@berkeley project web site: