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Virtual Laboratory - Non-Linear Multiple Story Building

This virtual experiment allows you to conduct nonlinear dynamic analysis for a multiple story building. The building is modeled as a multi-degree-of-freedom system with various types of nonlinear models for each story.

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Version 1.0-14 - published on 12 Sep 2014

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It is common to design structures to behave nonlinearly under extreme load conditions, e.g. earthquakes and hurricanes. Therefore, it is important to instruct students or practitioners to better understand the effect of nonlinear behavior of buildings. This nonlinear dynamic analysis virtual laboratory (VL) has been developed for his purpose.

In this VL, users are given wide flexibility to perform dynamic analysis. Users can choose the number of stories, as well as select the floor mass, stiffness, and damping coefficients for each story. Four models, are provided to portray the behavior of the structure. These modes are: (a) linear stiffness and linear viscous damping; (b) linear stiffness and nonlinear power-law damping; © hysteretic stiffness using the Bouc-Wen model and linear viscous damping; and (d) hysteretic bilinear stiffness and linear viscous damping. The same type of model is employed for all columns, but the parameters defining this model can be varied for each story. Sinusoidal and four historical earthquake excitations can be chosen for conducting the dynamic analysis.

This document offers a description of how to operate and use the Java-Powered Simulation for Nonlinear Multi-Story Building, a picture of which is shown below, and also the technical background of this simulation. A number of “homework” problems (or exercises) are suggested and references are provided.

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Dr. Bill Spencer, Smart Structures Technology Laborotory,


Newman A (1996): Special Edition Using Java. Que Cooperation, Indianapolis, IN. Tedesco JW, McDougal WG, Ross CA (1998): Structural Dynamics: Theory and Applications. Addison-Wesley. Belytschko T, Hughes TJ (1983): Computational Methods for Transient Analysis. North-Holland. Berg GV (1989): Elements of Structural Dynamics. Prentice Hall. Press WH, Flannery BP, Teukolsky SA, Vetterling WT (1987): Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing. Cambridge University Press.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • (2010), "Virtual Laboratory - Non-Linear Multiple Story Building,"

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