UB CSEE and Purdue University professors partner with AISC to improve seismic resiliency in high-rise buildings

photo of michel bruneau

By Peter Murphy

Published September 7, 2017

Michel Bruneau, a professor in UB’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering and Amit Varma of Purdue University have received over $750,000 in research grants from the Charles Pankow Foundation in partnership with the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC).

The nonprofit, public benefit, charitable foundation was established in 2002 by Charles Pankow in order to improve the efficiency and costs associated with the architecture, engineering and construction industry. The Foundation funds research grants to U.S. universities and research institutes, and operates independently of the Pankow companies.

Bruneau and Varma received two grants for research projects aimed at improving the seismic resiliency in high-rise buildings. The first grant will fund research to advance the wind and seismic design of Concrete-Filled Composite Plate Shear Walls (CF-CPSW).

“The use of CF-CPSW as the core-wall system of tall buildings can provide substantial economic benefits in faster construction time, lower cost, increased leasable floor space, and superior performance when subjected to earthquakes, wind and other extreme events,” said Bruneau.

A separate grant will fund the professors’ research into R-Factors developed from FEMA P-695 studies for Coupled Composite Plate Shear Walls – Concrete Filled (Coupled-C-PSW/CF).

“In seismic design, R-factors are used to absorb the earthquake energy in well-identified repairable locations,” said Bruneau, “This project seeks to develop R-Factors for Coupled-C-PSW/CF.  This structural system will be predominantly used in high-rise buildings having a core-wall system with coupled beams, located in seismic regions. Coupled systems are anticipated to be more ductile and have more redundancy than non-coupled walls, but building codes in the United States currently do not assign them higher R-factors.”

The research is intended for inclusion into the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 7 – Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criteria for Buildings and Other Structures. Bruneau is Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, an ASCE Fellow, and a member of various AISC committees tasked with developing design specifications for bridges and buildings. Previous research results found by Bruneau and Varma have been implanted in AISC design specifications.  Industry partners who will provide valuable contributions to this project include Larry Kruth of AISC, Ron Klemencic and John Hooper of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Jim Malley of Degenkolb Engineers, Rafael Sabelli of Walter P. Moore & Associates, Ron Hamburger of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Tom Sabol of Englekirk Institutional, Bonnie Manley of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and Peter Timler of West-Cascadia Consultants Limited.

Bruneau joined UB in 1998, He is recognized nationally and internationally for the impact of his innovative research contributions to new design concepts capable of providing satisfactory seismic resistance, blast resistance, or both simultaneously as multi-hazard resistant concepts. He was director of MCEER and a principal investigator on the grant to create the world’s most versatile earthquake engineering testing facility at the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory. Bruneau is currently an Institute of Bridge Engineering (IBE) researcher and a professor.  Bruneau received his PhD in structural engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987.