Secondary frame action in concentrically braced frames designed for moderate seismicity: a full scale experimental study


European seismic design codes do not take into account the strength and stiffness of the secondary frame action provided by bracing gusset plates of concentrically braced frames (CBFs). This is an attractive assumption for practicing engineers, as it provides simplifications during the analysis and design phases. However, when efficiency and economy are concerned, especially in low-to-moderate seismic regions, this normally neglected frame resource may be interesting to consider in design. Gusset plates can provide a certain degree of stiffness and strength following the bracing failure, and may even prevent global collapse. In particular, when the shear deformation demand of the braced cell remains limited, as in the case of low-to-moderate seismic actions, it may become reasonable to take this extra stiffness and strength into account. Ongoing research project RFSR-CT-2013-00022 MEAKADO investigated this phenomenon by means of experimental and numerical studies with the perspective of setting new inputs for the design rules of the future generation of Eurocodes. This paper presents the results of full scale tests performed inside this research project, which characterized resistance, stiffness, and ductility resources of CBF systems designed for moderate seismicity. The paper also quantifies the effective contribution of the frame action, provided by gusset plate connections, to the global performance of CBF frames.

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This article presents the results of full scale tests performed within MEAKADO project coordinated by Prof. Herve Degee, which is carried out with the financial grant of the Research Program of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel of the European Commission (RFSR-CT-2013-00022). Special thanks to Prof. Carlo Andrea Castiglioni, for his precious comments. Thanks to the manager and technicians of the LPM laboratories of Politecnico di Milano. Assistance of the Master thesis students Alberto Volonterio and Umberto Rico during the test implementations is also deeply appreciated.

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Correspondence to Alper Kanyilmaz.

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Kanyilmaz, A. Secondary frame action in concentrically braced frames designed for moderate seismicity: a full scale experimental study. Bull Earthquake Eng 15, 2101–2127 (2017).

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  • Concentrically braced frames
  • Moderate seismicity
  • Secondary frame action
  • Gusset plate connections
  • Full scale tests
  • Steel frame reserve capacity