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Shake test in upstate New York may lead to safer concrete buildings

 


Fay Street Warehouse exterior.

Fay Street Warehouse interior.

In an unusual experiment, a team of researchers from the University at Buffalo, Tufts University, and UCLA conducted shake tests on an existing, 10-story, RC-infilled structure in Utica, New York. Led by UB Asst. Professor Andreas Stavridis and Tufts Asst. Professor Babak Moaveni, the study aims to develop and validate software tools for simulating the seismic performance of reinforced concrete structures and for identifying damage to concrete buildings.

"This was a unique opportunity,” Stavridis explained. “With the resulting data we want to develop and validate a new simulation framework that, ultimately, practicing engineers can apply for assessing damage for any type of building."

The ABC news affiliate covered the Fay Street shake. Click here to view the video story.

Erected about 100 years ago, the 10-story Fay Street Warehouse building is empty and slated for demolition in early March, making it a prime candidate for unobstructed shaking. Using the Mighty Mouse shaker from NEES@UCLA, the research team shook from the second story and simulated damage by knocking down infill walls. “We were able to test 4 or 5 damage states,” Stavridis reported. Over 70 sensors were installed in to the building to measure its accelerations and displacements as well as the temperature outside the building and inside the concrete members.

As well as collecting data from shake tests, the team used a full-time recording mode in order to detect changes in the response of the building to ambient vibration caused by adjacent traffic. This is the type of data that could be available for any building with sensors installed.

Stavridis envisions a framework that could be applied to permanently instrumented critical structures. He also foresees a methodology for periodic structural monitoring of buildings. “That way we could detect damage from earthquakes and other extreme events, as well as from aging and other factors,” Stavridis explained. “It would be like assessing the health of the building routinely or after major loading events. ”

 

by Marti LaChance