ITTC Project

Reduced Brace Section (RXS): Proof of Concept

Project Award Date: 10-01-2003


The 1994 Northridge Earthquake was one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. The quake struck a densely populated area north of Los Angeles, leaving 12,500 structures with moderate to severe damage. Studies conducted in the earthquakes aftermath allowed better understanding of structural steel building systems response in an earthquake. While steel high rises and other steel buildings generally performed well, there was significant and widespread damage to a number of steel buildings throughout the area. This led the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) to update its building codes with Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel.

The provisions offer greater protection to those living or working in high-rise steel structures. While the changes are needed in those buildings filled with people, other large steel structures must abide by these code changes as well. Other uses for such buildings include airplane hangers and manufacturing plants. Those buildings used for heavy industrial applications have different needs than those filled with people. However, the same codes apply to both.

The updated Seismic Provisions have significantly increased the cost and size of steel connections for these industrial structures.

Professor Kim Roddis is working to lower the cost while helping ensure buildings used for industrial purposes perform well in earthquakes. It will take a number of years to change the provisions to include these box-like buildings, which means there needs to be technology developed to meet the existing provisions until then.

Buildings in earthquake-prone areas need bracing to help support them during a quake. Existing provisions require the brace connections be able to support the maximum force that can be transferred to them by the brace or the structural system. Roddis approach is to reduce the capacity of the brace section to protect the connections from an overload. This is similar to protecting an electrical circuit by inserting a fuse.


Faculty Investigator(s): Kim Roddis (PI)

Student Investigator(s): Paul Graham, Santiago Bonetti

Project Sponsors

Primary Sponsor(s): Butler Heavy Structures

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