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# Approximate Lateral Load Analysis by Portal Method

Portal Frame
Portal frames, used in several Civil Engineering structures like buildings, factories, bridges have the primary
purpose of transferring horizontal loads applied at their tops to their foundations. Structural requirements
usually necessitate the use of statically indeterminate layout for portal frames, and approximate solutions are
often used in their analyses.

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

(iv)

## Assumptions for the Approximate Solution

In order to analyze a structure using the equations of statics only, the number of independent force
components must be equal to the number of independent equations of statics.
If there are n more independent force components in the structure than there are independent equations of
statics, the structure is statically indeterminate to the nth degree. Therefore to obtain an approximate solution
of the structure based on statics only, it will be necessary to make n additional independent assumptions. A
solution based on statics will not be possible by making fewer than n assumptions, while more than n
assumptions will not in general be consistent.
Thus, the first step in the approximate analysis of structures is to find its degree of statical indeterminacy
(dosi) and then to make appropriate number of assumptions.
For example, the dosi of portal frames shown in (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv) are 1, 3, 2 and 1 respectively. Based on
the type of frame, the following assumptions can be made for portal structures with a vertical axis of
symmetry that are loaded horizontally at the top
1. The horizontal support reactions are equal
2. There is a point of inflection at the center of the unsupported height of each fixed based column
Assumption 1 is used if dosi is an odd number (i.e., = 1 or 3) and Assumption 2 is used if dosi

1.

and support conditions.
3. Horizontal body forces not applied at the top of a column can be divided into two forces (i.e.,
applied at the top and bottom of the column) based on simple supports
4. For hinged and fixed supports, the horizontal reactions for fixed supports can be assumed to be four
times the horizontal reactions for hinged supports

Example
Draw the axial force, shear force and bending moment diagrams of the frames loaded as shown below.
B

10 k

10 k
10

F
5

15

15

(i)

(ii)

Solution
(i) For this frame, dosi = 3 3 + 4 3 4 = 1; i.e., Assumption 1
MA = 0 10 10 VD 15 = 0 VD = 6.67 k
Fy = 0 VA + VD = 0 VA = 6.67 k

HA = HD = 10/2 = 5 k

10 k

50

50
5

6.67

6.67
5k

6.67

5k
6.67 k

6.67 k
Reactions

AFD (k)

SFD (k)

BMD (k-ft)

(ii) dosi = 3 3 + 6 3 4 = 3
Assumption 1 HA = HD = 10/2 = 5 k, Assumption 2 BME = BMF = 0
BMF = 0 HA 5 + MA = 0 MA = 25 k-ft; Similarly BME = 0 MD = 25 k-ft
MA = 0
25 25 + 10 10 VD 15 = 0 VD = 3.33 k
Fy = 0 VA + VD = 0 VA = 3.33 k
10 k

25
3.33

5
3.33
5k

3.33

5k
25 k-ft

3.33 k
Reactions

25

25

25 k-ft
3.33 k
AFD (k)

SFD (k)

BMD (k-ft)

25

(iii)

10 k

5
HA
MA

A
7.5

HD
VA

MD

7.5

VA

HA

HD

10

10 k

F
VD

7.5

7.5

VD

## dosi = 3 4 + 6 3 5 1 = 2; Assumption 1 and 2 BME = BMF = 0

BME = 0 (bottom)
HA 5 + MA = 0 MA = 5HA; Similarly BMF = 0
Also BME = 0 (free body of EBCF) 10 5 VD 15 = 0 VD = 3.33 k
Fy = 0 VA + VD = 0 VA = VD = 3.33 k
BMG = 0 (between E and G) VA 7.5 HA 5 = 0 HA = 5 k
Fx = 0 (entire structure) HA + HD + 10 = 0
5 + HD + 10 = 0

MD = 5HD

MA = 5HA = 25 k-ft
HD = 5 k MD = 5HD = 25 k-ft
25

10 k
3.33

5
3.33
5k

25

3.33

5k
25 k-ft

25

25

25 k-ft
3.33 k

3.33 k
Reactions

AFD (k)

SFD (k)

BMD (k-ft)

## (iv) dosi = 3 5 + 9 3 6 = 6 6 Assumptions needed to solve the structure

Assumption 1 and 2 HA: HB: HC = 1: 2: 1 HA = 10/4 = 2.5 k, HB = 5 k, HC = 2.5 k
MA = MC = 2.5 5 = 12.5 k-ft, MB = 5 5 = 25 k-ft
The other 4 assumptions are the assumed internal hinge locations at midpoints of columns and one beam
12.5

12.5

10 k

12.5
25

2.5 k

5k

2.5 k
25 k-ft

12.5 k-ft
YB

YA

50
12.5 k-ft

12.5

YC

Reactions
1.67

12.5

25

BMD (k-ft)
1.67
2.5
7.5

2.5

2.5

1.67

SFD (k)

1.67
AFD (k)

## Analysis of Multi-storied Structures by Portal Method

Approximate methods of analyzing multi-storied structures are important because such structures are
statically highly indeterminate. The number of assumptions that must be made to permit an analysis by
statics alone is equal to the degree of statical indeterminacy of the structure.
Assumptions
The assumptions used in the approximate analysis of portal frames can be extended for the lateral load
analysis of multi-storied structures. The Portal Method thus formulated is based on three assumptions
1. The shear force in an interior column is twice the shear force in an exterior column.
2. There is a point of inflection at the center of each column.
3. There is a point of inflection at the center of each beam.
Assumption 1 is based on assuming the interior columns to be formed by columns of two adjacent bays or
portals. Assumption 2 and 3 are based on observing the deflected shape of the structure.

12

2@10 =20

Example
Use the Portal Method to draw the axial force, shear force and bending moment diagrams of the three-storied
frame structure loaded as shown below.
Column shear forces are at the ratio of 1:2:2:1.
18k
M
N
O
P
Shear force in (V) columns IM, JN, KO, LP are
[18 1/(1 + 2 + 2 + 1) =] 3k, [18 2/(1 + 2 + 2 + 1) =] 6k,
12k
I
J
K
L
6k, 3k respectively. Similarly,
VEI = 30 1/(6) = 5k, VFJ = 10k, VGK = 10k, VHL = 5k; and
6k
VAE = 36 1/(6) = 6k, VBF = 12k, VCG = 12k, VDH = 6k
E
F
G
H
Bending moments are
A
B
C
D
MIM = 3 10/2 = 15k , MJN = 30k , MKO = 30k , MLP = 15k
10
15
15
MEI = 5 10/2 = 25k , MFJ = 50k , MGK = 50k , MHL = 25k
MAE = 6 10/2 = 30k , MFJ = 60k , MGK = 60k , MHL = 30k
The rest of the calculations follow from the free-body diagrams
3

10

10

12

12

15

30

30

15

-15

25

50

50

25

-10

36

72

72

36

-5

15

15

61

40

-6

-2

-3

-1

-3

-2

7.33

3.67

-3.67

-7.33

7.75

-7.75

-15.5

40
-5.33

61

-3

15
-2

40

-9

-8

-5.33

61
-8.13

-12.2

-2

-8.13

-1

15.5

## Problems on Lateral Load Analysis by Portal Method

1. The figure below shows the shear forces (kips) in the interior columns of a two-storied frame. Use the
Portal Method to calculate the corresponding
(i) applied loads P1 and P2, (ii) column bending moments, (iii) beam axial forces.
P2
3

10

P1
5

12

20

20

2. The figure below shows the applied loads (F1, F2) and shear force (VEF) in column EF of a two-storied
frame. If F2 = 10 k, and VEF = 5 k, use the Portal Method to calculate the
(i) applied load F1, (ii) maximum column bending moments.
A

F1

D
10

F2

E
12

VEF
C

F
20

15

15

3. For the structure shown in Question 2, use the Portal Method to calculate the lateral loads F 1, F2 if the
axial forces in beams AD and BE are 10 kips and 15 kips respectively.
4. For the structure shown below, use the Portal Method to
(i) draw the bending moment diagrams of the top floor beams AB and BC
(i) calculate the applied load F1 if the maximum bending moment in column EH is 30 k-ft.
B

F2 = 10 k

C
10

F1

F
14

H
15

15

5. The figure below shows the exterior column shear forces (kips) in a four-storied fame.
Calculate (i) the applied loads, (ii) beam shear forces.

4 @ 10 = 40

5
10
15
20
20

10

## Analysis of Multi-storied Structures by Cantilever Method

Although the results using the Portal Method are reasonable in most cases, the method suffers due to the
lack of consideration given to the variation of structural response due to the difference between sectional
properties of various members. The Cantilever Method attempts to rectify this limitation by considering the
cross-sectional areas of columns in distributing the axial forces in various columns of a story.
Assumptions
The Cantilever Method is based on three assumptions
1. The axial force in each column of a storey is proportional to its horizontal distance from the
centroidal axis of all the columns of the storey.
2. There is a point of inflection at the center of each column.
3. There is a point of inflection at the center of each beam.
Assumption 1 is based on assuming that the axial stresses can be obtained by a method analogous to that
used for determining the distribution of normal stresses on a transverse section of a cantilever beam.
Assumption 2 and 3 are based on observing the deflected shape of the structure.

12

2@10 =20

Example
Use the Cantilever Method to draw the axial force, shear force and bending moment diagrams of the three storied frame structure loaded as shown below.
The dotted line is the column centerline (at all floors)
18k
O
M
N
P
Column axial forces are at the ratio of 20: 5: 5: 20.
k
Axial force in (P) columns IM, JN, KO, LP are
12
I
K
J
L
[18 5 20/{202 + 52 + ( 5)2 + ( 20)2} = ] 2.12k, [18 5
5/(202 + 52 + ( 5)2 + ( 20)2} = ] 0.53k, 0.53k, 2.12k
6k
respectively.
F
G
E
H
Similarly, PEI = 330 20/(850) = 7.76k, PFJ = 1.94k, PGK =
A
B
C
D
1.94k, PHL = 7.76k; and
15
15
5 5
PAE = 696 20/(850) = 16.38k, PBF = 4.09k, PCG = 4.09k,
PDH = 16.38k
The rest of the calculations follow from the free-body diagrams
2.12
7.76

0.53
1.94

-0.53
-1.94

-2.12

-2.12
-7.76

-5.65
-8.61

16.38

4.09

-4.09

-16.38

15.9

29.1

15.9

3.18

5.82

26.5

48.5

48.5

26.5

5.30

9.70

38.1

69.9
1

69.9

38.1

6.35

11.65

-7.06

-5.64

-10.76

-8.61

5.82

13.2

15.9

42.4

35.3

42.4

64.6

53.8

3.18
5.30

11.65

6.35

64.6

9.70

15.9
-2.12

29.1

-2.65

-14.82
-9.88
-4.95

-8.98

-3.04

-6.00

-2.12

-3.00

-1.05

12

6k

12

2@10 =20

18

15

10

D
15
19.4 -16.3 18.4

2.38

1.30

7.19

5.13

13.07

-9.41

-1.32
-5.18

-2.38

-2.36
-7.14

-4.80
-5.89

-9.48

-13.00

## Column AFD (k)

34.7

34.6

19.3

-9.5
28.6

-26.5
50.5

-26.4
50.5

-9.4
28.5

-51.5

-48.1
43.6

-48.1
43.5

-60.9
-60.7
Column BMD (k-ft)

-8.63

-4.78

-10.17

-5.86

19.4

-22.9
24.5

-4.68

-22.8
24.3

2.90

6.13

5.15

9.87

7.59

10.45

16.2 -19.3

-2.36
38.1 -33.9 43.2

33.8 -37.9

40.8 -47.1

6.11

2.87

9.85

5.13

10.41

7.53

-15.10
-9.75
-3.55

-8.98

-2.87

-6.01

-2.27

-2.97

-2.40

-51.0
Column SFD (k)

-5.73
12.26

12.26

-12.95

-11.57

## Column AFD (k)

18.5

43.3

42.4

-80.4

-79.8
Column BMD (k-ft)

-5.15

18.4
5.73

-38.8

-12.37

12.37

38.2 -39.1

12.21

5.69

-4.66

-2.65

-38.4
Column SFD (k)

-1.31

## Problems on Lateral Load Analysis by Cantilever Method

1. The figure below shows the axial forces (kips) in the exterior columns of a two-storied frame.
If the cross-sectional area of column ABC is twice the area of the other columns, use the Cantilever
Method to calculate the corresponding applied loads P1 and P2.
A

P2

10

12

12

P1

C
20

20

2. For the structure shown below, use the Cantilever Method to calculate the lateral loads F1, F2 if the shear
forces in beams AB and DE are 10 kips and 15 kips respectively. Assume all the columns have the same
cross-sectional area.
A

F2

C
8

F1

G
15

I
20

J
10

20

12k

12

6k

2@10 =20

18k

## Columns with area 2A

3. Use the Cantilever Method to draw the axial force, shear force and bending moment diagrams of the
three-storied structure loaded as shown below.

15

D
15

10

3 @ 10 = 30

3 @ 10 = 30

4. Figure (a) below shows the exterior column axial forces (kips) in a three-storied fame.
Use the Cantilever Method to calculate (i) the applied loads, (ii) beam bending moments, (iii) column
bending moments. Assume all the columns to have equal cross-sectional areas.
5
10
15
20

7
20

10
Fig. (a)

2
10

Fig. (b)

5. Figure (b) above shows the column shear forces (kips) in a three-storied fame.
Calculate the column BM, beam BM, beam SF and column AF.
Also check if they satisfy the conditions for Cantilever Method (for equal column areas).