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Journal of Structural Integrity and Maintenance

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Recommendations for numerical modelling of

concentrically braced steel frames with gusset
plate connections subjected to earthquake ground

Terence Ryan, Brian M. Broderick, Alan Hunt, Jamie Goggins & Suhaib

To cite this article: Terence Ryan, Brian M. Broderick, Alan Hunt, Jamie Goggins & Suhaib
Salawdeh (2017) Recommendations for numerical modelling of concentrically braced steel frames
with gusset plate connections subjected to earthquake ground motion, Journal of Structural Integrity
and Maintenance, 2:3, 168-180, DOI: 10.1080/24705314.2017.1354154

To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/24705314.2017.1354154

Published online: 31 Aug 2017.

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Journal of Structural Integrity and Maintenance, 2017
VOL. 2, NO. 3, 168180

Recommendations for numerical modelling of concentrically braced steel frames

with gusset plate connections subjected to earthquake ground motion
Terence Ryana, Brian M. Broderickb, Alan Huntb, Jamie Gogginsc,d and Suhaib Salawdehc,d
Department of Civil Engineering & Materials Science, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland; bDepartment of Civil Engineering, Trinity College
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; cDepartment of Civil Engineering, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland; dCentre for Marine and Renewable
Energy (MaREI), Galway, Ireland

Concentrically Braced Steel Frames (CBFs) are commonly used as an economic and effective means of Earthquake engineering;
resisting the lateral loading induced during earthquakes and limiting the associated displacements. Here, concentrically braced frames;
an integrated experimental and numerical approach is taken to investigate the performance of CBFs time-history analysis; shake
subjected to seismic action of varying intensity. As part of the BRACED transnational research project, table testing
shake table experiments on full-scale single-storey CBFs recorded the response of test frames employing
various combinations of bracing member sizes and gusset plate connection details to simulated ground
motions scaled to produce elastic response, brace buckling/yielding and ultimately brace fracture. This
recorded experimental data is used to validate a numerical model developed using the OpenSees
seismic response analysis software. Key experimental and numerical model responses are compared.
The sensitivity of the model to variations in modelling parameters is assessed and recommendations
for future numerical modelling are presented. Results indicate model performance is sensitive to the
initial camber applied to the brace members, with a value of 0.8% of overall brace length observed to
achieve a more accurate representation of global frame stiffness and drift response than the lower values
previously recommended in literature, but an underestimate of the compression resistance of the brace.

Introduction Gusset plate connections

Bracing is commonly employed in steel framed buildings to In addition to bracing member stiffness, the performance of
provide lateral resistance and limit lateral displacements during CBFs subjected to strong ground motions is influenced by the
seismic events. The response of such buildings during earth- connections between the brace and the rest of the frame, which
quakes is largely dependent on the behaviour of the brace is most commonly a gusset plate connection.
members when subjected to alternating cyclic axial tension and In conventional design, the diagonal bracing members
compression forces. In most cases, the design of the braces must are considered the dissipative elements of the frame, and are
allow for their highly non-linear behaviour. designed to yield before failure occurs in the connections. Gusset
In concentrically braced frames (CBFs) the centre line of plate connections must therefore be designed to have tension
the diagonal bracing coincides with the intersection of the and compression resistances much larger than those of the brace
beam and column members of the frame. During larger earth- and are not considered to contribute to energy dissipation.
quakes, CBFs provide a means of energy dissipation through In compression, global buckling of the brace must be
the alternate cyclic yielding and post-buckling deformation accommodated by allowing out-of-plane member end rotation
of their braces, while the inherent stiffness of the structural through the formation of adequate plastic hinges in the gusset
form serves to minimise non-structural damage and residual plates at either end of the brace. Therefore, the gusset plate
deformations. cannot be designed to remain elastic throughout the earth-
quake response, since the plate must typically yield during the
out-of-plane bending experienced during brace compression.
Diagonal frames and v-frames
Conventional seismic design practice achieves this by providing
CBFs can be further subdivided into diagonal frames and a standard linear clearance (SLC) zone when detailing the gusset
v-frames (CEN, 2004). While both rely on the non-linear plate. The plate must also be sufficiently stiff not to buckle in
behaviour of the brace to resist seismic loading, diagonal compression, even in the presence of the plastic hinges, and it
frames may be designed considering that the design lateral must possess sufficient strength not to yield over the Whitmore
resistance is provided by the tension braces only, whereas in width (AISC, 2011) when the brace is in tension.
v-frames, the resistances of both the tension and compres- In practice, the requirement for the gusset plate to remain
sion members must be considered in seismic design analy- elastic in tension, while stable (not buckling) but ductile (allow-
sis. This study investigates the seismic response of diagonal ing the formation of plastic hinges due to out-of-plane bending)
CBFs only. in compression so as to facilitate global buckling of the brace,

CONTACT  Terence Ryan  terence.ryan@ul.ie

© 2017 Korea Institute for Structural Maintenance and Inspection

can lead to large gusset plates sizes. These stiff plates have been Fenves, & Scott, 2000) to produce a line-element physical the-
observed to result in local damage to the beam, column and ory model of the BRACED test frame. The limitation of this type
braces in the areas adjacent to the gusset plates. As an alterna- of model is that plane sections are assumed to remain plane
tive, a “balanced” design approach has been proposed (Roeder, and perpendicular to the neutral axis, so section distortion and
Lumpkin, & Lehman, 2011) in which some limited tensile yield- local buckling are not accounted for. The ability of such models
ing of the gusset plate is allowed during strong ground motion. to simulate behaviour after the occurrence of local buckling is
This is achieved through careful sizing and detailing of the plate, therefore limited, although this can be mitigated by calibrating
providing an elliptical clearance (EC) zone in the gusset plate the model parameters against experimental data.
as opposed to the conventional SLC. This approach leads to Goggins and Salawdeh (2013) validated a numerical model
smaller overall gusset plate dimensions, with a shorter effec- using shake table tests carried out in the Laboratory for
tive length and, therefore, increased plate buckling resistance. Earthquake Engineering of the National Technical University of
Gusset plates designed using both the SLC and EC approaches Athens (NTUA) (Elghazouli et al., 2005; Broderick, Elghazouli, &
are considered in this study. Goggins, 2008). These shake table test specimens were ideali-
In addition to its out-of-plane and axial stiffness, the behav- zations of CBFs, where the effect of brace-beam-column con-
iour of the gusset plate is influenced by the form of its connec- nections was not included in the test model. The applicability
tion to the other members of the frame. A gusset plate may of the test results and relevant comparison with numerical pre-
be connected to both the beam and the column of a frame dictions to CBF arrangements used in practice was therefore
(designated arrangement type CA in this study) or to the beam limited (Salawdeh & Goggins, 2016).
only (type CB) as shown in Figure 1.
When modelling the global response of multi-storey CBF
Experimental study
buildings for seismic design analysis, the beam-to-column con-
nection is typically considered to have little or no rotational The numerical model developed in this study is validated
stiffness. However, in the case of connection arrangement CA, against a set of experimental data from the BRACED transna-
the gusset plate can provide significant in-plane rotational tional research project (Broderick et al., 2013; Salawdeh et al.,
resistance. Both arrangements are considered in this study. 2017) funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework
Programme (FP7). It involved a series of shake table experiments
on a full-scale single storey CBF carried out on the Azalee seis-
Modelling approaches
mic testing facility at CEA Saclay, France. A total of 12 iden-
As with all numerical models, when choosing an approach to tical pairs of brace-gusset plate combinations were tested to
model CBFs the required accuracy must be considered in the examine three different test parameters; brace cross section
context of model complexity and computational cost. size, brace connection configuration and gusset plate design.
Three-dimensional finite element models use shell or brick Details of the experimental programme are presented in Table
elements to represent the braces and calculate the hysteretic 1. The following notation is used to describe the properties of
response of the brace using non-linear material models and the brace-gusset plate specimens tested:
large deformation theory. While potentially accurate, these Brace Section Size:
continuum models are not suitable for global non-linear
• S1 80 × 80 × 3.0 SHS
time-history analysis (NLTHA) of building frames due to large
• S2 100 × 50 × 3.0 RHS
computational expense resulting from the model complexity.
• S3 80 × 40 × 3.0 RHS
Line-element models use beam-column elements and
• S4 60 × 60 × 3.0 SHS
zero-length elements to model the brace and the gusset plate
connections (Uriz & Mahin, 2008). These models, which require Connection Configuration:
significantly less computation time than continuum models,
typically provide an accurate simulation of global behaviour. • CA Gusset connection to beam and column flange
This study uses the Open System for Earthquake Engineering • CB Gusset connection to beam flange only Gusset Plate
Simulation (OpenSees) computational platform (McKenna Design

Figure 1. Common gusset plate connection arrangements.

170   T. RYAN ET AL.

Table 1. BRACED project experimental programme. frame, the gusset plates were bolted to the beam and column to
Gusset plate facilitate the replacement of the gusset plate-brace specimens
between tests. Tests 1 to 7 featured connection arrangement
Test Designation Brace Type tplate [mm] Design
CA between the brace and the other frame members, with Tests
1 S1-CA-G1 80 × 80 × 3.0 SHS CA 12 SLC
2 S3-CA-G1 80 × 40 × 3.0 RHS CA 8 SLC 8 to 12 featured connection arrangement CB. At floor level, the
3 S4-CA-G1 60 × 60 × 3.0 SHS CA 8 SLC brace ends were connected to MTS swivels fixed to the shake
4 S2-CA-G1 100 × 50 × 3.0 CA 12 SLC table floor. The swivels have a free in-plane rotation angle range
5 S1-CA-G2 80 × 80 × 3.0 SHS CA 5 EC of −30o to +90 from the vertical axis, and ±7° maximum out-
6 S2-CA-G2 100 × 50 × 3.0 CA 4 EC of-plane rotation.
RHS The response of each set-up to different levels of earthquake
7 S3-CA-G2 80 × 40 × 3.0 RHS CA 4 EC
8 S1-CB-G1 80 × 80 × 3.0 SHS CB 12 SLC loading was examined. Each test was subjected to shake table
9 S2-CB-G1 100 × 50 × 3.0 CB 12 SLC excitation scaled to induce three different levels of response:
RHS (i) low level with elastic response; (ii) medium level with brace
10 S4-CB-G2 60 × 60 × 3.0 SHS CB 4 EC
11 S2-CB-G2 100 × 50 × 3.0 CB 4 EC buckling and yielding and (iii) high level with brace fracture.
RHS The earthquake levels corresponding to these responses are
12 S3-CB-G2 80 × 40 × 3.0 RHS CB 4 EC referred to as the Operating Basis or Operating Level Earthquake
(OBE), Contingency Level Earthquake (CLE) and Maximum
Credible Earthquake (MCE), respectively.
Gusset Plate Design: In all test runs, the applied shake table accelerations were
• G1 Conventional design with SLC unidirectional along the horizontal X-axis only. The same earth-
• G2 Balanced design with EC quake record was scaled to achieve peak accelerations appro-
priate to the earthquake level to be examined during each
The BRACED test frame had an overall height of 3.167 m with test run to ensure consistency and allow comparison between
a span of 4.9 m. A total seismic mass of 44 tons (Figure 2) was tests. The record used was the El Centro (NGA#006) ground
applied to the frame using a combination of steel plates and motion obtained from the Pacific Earthquake Engineering
concrete masses. The columns were HE 200 B sections with full Research (PEER) Database which was recorded in Imperial Valley,
in-plane rotation allowed at the base, while the beam was an California during the earthquake in 1940 (PEER, 2010).
IPE 400 O section. The test frame beam was connected to the A range of frame response quantities were recorded using
columns by bolting the bottom flange to a cap plate welded high resolution instrumentation including accelerations, dis-
to the top of the column sections. Two additional unbraced placements, brace axial forces and strains during each test
frames were provided on either side of the test frame to provide run (Salawdeh et al., 2017). During testing, the frame was
lateral stability and to support the cross-beams carrying the observed to remain elastic during low-level (OBE) test runs
applied masses. with no brace buckling. At intermediate level runs (CLE) brace
A pair of identical brace-gusset plate specimens was used buckling and yielding was observed, sometimes with large
in each test. While commonly welded in practice, in the test out-of-plane brace buckling deformation but always with

Figure 2. An elevation of the BRACED experimental set-up.

Notes: CA and CB connection types shown for illustration purposes, identical braced specimen pairs used for all test run.

limited plastic deformation demand. A fully inelastic response masses and the accelerograms used to simulate the shake table
was observed in all high level excitation tests (MCE). No gusset excitation in the NLTHA.
plate failures occurred during testing. The yield strengths of the gusset plates and the braces in
White noise tests were conducted in separate runs at the the numerical model are based on tensile coupon tests carried
start of each set of tests on a pair of brace-gusset plate speci- out on samples taken from each test specimen. In the case of
mens, and again after each earthquake excitation test in which the cold-formed brace members, the yield strengths used in
brace failure did not occur. The objectives of these tests were to the numerical model are taken as the increased average yield
evaluate the elastic properties of the structure prior to testing strengths (fya) of the cross section due to cold working as cal-
and the evolution of these properties as the level of excitation culated using the following expression from Eurocode 3 (CEN,
applied to the structure increased. 2009):
Converting a white noise response signal from the time ( )
domain to the frequency domain allows its frequency com- ( ) 2
fu + fyb
ponents to be identified. The structural period can then be fya = fyb + fu − fyb but fya ≤
Ag 2
identified from the dominant frequency and the structural
damping ratio can be established using the half-power band- where fyb is the basic yield value obtained from the coupon tests
width (HPB) method. The HPB method is commonly used for its (N/mm2), Ag is the gross area of the cross section (mm2), t is the
simplicity, and accurate results can be expected for single-de- nominal core thickness of the steel material prior to cold forming
gree-of-freedom systems with small values of damping such as (mm), n is the number of 90° bends in the cross section with an
CBFs subjected to low amplitude loading in elastic shake table internal radius r < 5t (fractions of 90° bends are counted as frac-
tests (Chopra, 2006). In the case of stronger amplitude time tions of n), k is a numerical coefficient depending on the type of
histories, plastic regions are expected to develop in the struc- forming (k = 7 for roll forming, k = 5 for other methods of forming)
ture, thus changing the damping properties and invalidating and fu is the basic ultimate tensile strength of the sheet taken from
the assumption of linear viscous damping. the coupon test. Goggins (2004) recommended that the limit in
To convert the response signal recorded during each white EC3 be omitted, although for the braces in this study the limit did
noise test to the frequency domain the Fast Fourier Transform not influence the increased average yield strengths used.
(FFT) algorithm (Cooley & Tukey, 1965) was performed on the The braces are modelled as square-cornered hollow square
original response signal and a smoothing algorithm (Welch, or rectangular cross sections of constant wall thickness. The
1967) was applied to mitigate the effects of measurement noise specified nominal external height and depth of the brace cross
in the signal. sections are used and the corresponding modelled wall thick-
The natural frequency (fn), structural period (Tn) and damping nesses are determined from the average measured cross-sec-
ratio (ξn) for each pair of brace-gusset plate specimen obtained tional areas of the tested specimen. The measured areas take
from the initial white noise tests are presented in Table 2. account of local variations in cross sectional external dimen-
sions and wall thickness, and the curvature at the corners of
the cross section.
Numerical reference model
A numerical model of the BRACED test frame is created using
Brace members
the OpenSees computational platform. OpenSees is chosen
for its ability to accurately capture the global behaviour of the The braces are modelled using force-based non-linear beam-col-
entire system in a computationally inexpensive manner, allow- umn elements. To represent buckling load and hysteretic behav-
ing for future expansion of the reference model to simulate iour, OpenSees represents elements using a series of fibres with
more complex CBF arrangements. distributed plasticity. Uriz and Mahin (2008) noted that using
fewer fibres in the brace cross section increases the sensitivity
of the model to axial load–bending moment interaction. In the
Model properties
reference model, the brace cross section is represented using
The parameters used in the numerical model are matched to five fibres across the length and thickness of each section wall,
those of the physical tests, including the brace material prop- giving a total of 100 fibres per brace cross section. The Giuffre-
erties, brace dimensions, overall frame dimensions, seismic Menegotto-Pinto steel material model (Menegotto & Pinto,
1973) with isotropic strain hardening (Steel02 in OpenSees) is
used to represent the brace material. A strain hardening ratio
Table 2. BRACED project initial white noise test results – natural frequency (fn), of 0.008 is specified for all brace member elements.
structural period (T1) and structural damping ratio (ξ). Uriz, Filippou, and Mahin (2008) noted that brace models
with two inelastic elements and three integration points per
fn T1 (Exp.) ξn
element gave an accurate representation of inelastic buckling
Test Designation [Hz] [s] [%]
behaviour. Hunt (2013) found that the effect of varying the
1 S1-CA-G1 4.625 0.216 3.56
2 S3-CA-G1 4.250 0.235 2.50 number of elements was minimal when examining the mono-
3 S4-CA-G1 4.438 0.225 4.58 tonic compression and hysteretic performance of test models,
4 S2-CA-G1 4.500 0.222 4.05 but optimum curvature response was observed when using at
5 S1-CA-G2 4.563 0.219 3.14
6 S2-CA-G2 4.438 0.225 2.60 least four elements per brace.
7 S3-CA-G2 4.063 0.246 3.60 The reference model in this study has 2 elements per brace
8 S1-CB-G1 4.438 0.226 1.98 and uses 10 integration points per element. It was found that
9 S2-CB-G1 3.875 0.258 4.27
10 S4-CB-G2 4.125 0.242 1.93 further increases to the number of elements and/or integration
11 S2-CB-G2 4.563 0.220 2.93 points resulted in increased processing times without any clear
12 S3-CB-G2 4.063 0.246 2.12 improvement in model accuracy.
172   T. RYAN ET AL.

Initial brace camber paper and showing the location of all nodes which are num-
bered with the prefix “n”.
When using OpenSees to model the behaviour of a brace
Table 3 presents the boundary conditions applied to the
member subject to axial compression Uriz and Mahin (2008)
model. The prefixes “d” and “r” indicate translation along and
proposed a numerical modelling technique which accounts
rotation about the relevant global axes, respectively. Nodes at
for the effects of global buckling by assigning a geometrical
ground level (n1, n4, n5, n6) are restrained against translation
imperfection in the form of an initial camber applied to the
in all directions and are free to rotate about the global Y-axis.
brace. The value of this initial camber typically varies from 1.0
The MTS swivel bases at the bottom end of each brace have a
to 0.05% of the overall brace length and is applied at the mid-
defined range of in-plane rotation and out-of-plane tilt from the
point of the brace.
vertical. To model this, full rotation is allowed about the global
Uriz and Mahin (2008) recommended a maximum camber
X-axis at nodes n5 and n6. Restraint against rotation about the
between 0.05 and 0.1% of the overall brace length. Wijesundara
Z-axis at the swivel supports is recommended by Hunt (2013)
(2009) employed a value of 0.3%, while Salawdeh and Goggins
and is provided in the reference model.
(2013) found that applying an initial camber of between 0.1
In the experimental set-up, tie beams are provided at the
and 1% of the overall brace length gave satisfactory results.
top of each column to adjacent out-rigger frames which pro-
The degree of the initial camber assigned strongly influences
vide lateral restraint. The nodes at these locations (n2, n3) may
the maximum buckling load achieved by the model brace, with
therefore be considered as restrained against out-of-plane
larger cambers limiting the magnitude of the axial compression
translation along the global Y-axis, but by inspection it is found
developed in the brace. Smaller initial eccentricities delay global
that omitting this boundary condition at these nodes does not
buckling but can lead to overestimation of the buckling force in
influence the global response of the frame. Therefore, to reduce
the member. Use of smaller initial cambers has also been found
computational effort no boundary conditions are imposed on
to cause convergence issues during NLTHA analysis.
the reference model at these locations.
Static pushover analysis can be used to assess the maximum
tension and compression forces in numerically modelled brace
members at buckling and yielding, respectively, allowing com- Gusset plate connections
parisons with corresponding theoretical or experimental values.
Pin connections, rotational spring connections or fibre connec-
Such analysis is typically used to calibrate the value of the initial
tion models are commonly used to represent the behaviour of
camber applied in numerical models of CBF arrangements.
typical gusset plate connections when modelling CBFs. In the
When modelling CBFs in OpenSees, it is found that the ini-
reference model of the BRACED test frame, the gusset plates
tial camber also influences the fundamental natural period of
are modelled using rotational spring-connections defined using
the modelled frame. This natural period can be calculated by
“zero-length” elements. The out-of-plane rotational stiffness
performing an eigenvalue analysis to determine the natural
and plastic moment of resistance of each gusset plate arrange-
period of the modelled arrangement. Larger values of initial
ment are calculated from the relevant measured material and
brace camber reduce global frame stiffness and result in longer
geometric properties.
natural periods.
To simulate the out-of-plane behaviour of the gusset plate
connection at the top of each brace a rotational spring defined
using a zerolength element is used to connect the end of the
Boundary conditions
brace member to a rigidlink element representing the remain-
An overview of the modelled test frame is shown in Figure 3 der of the gusset plate. When the brace buckles in compres-
indicating the orientation of the global axes referred to in this sion the larger out-of-plane deformations it experiences can

Figure 3. Reference model node nomenclature.


Table 3. Reference model boundary conditions (1 = fully restrained, 0 = unre- The BRACED test frame beam is connected to the columns
by bolting the bottom flange to a cap plate welded to the top of
Nodes Location dX dY dZ rX rY rZ the column members. In the reference model, where the gusset
n1,4 Column (base) 1 1 1 1 0 1 plate at the end of the brace specimen is bolted to the beam and
n5,6 Swivels 1 1 1 0 0 1 the column (connection type CA), the beam to column connec-
tion is modelled as continuous due to the additional rotational
stiffness provided by the gusset plate. For connection type CB,
a fully pinned connection allowing rotation about the global
Y-axis is modelled at the beam-column interface by providing
an appropriate “zeroLength” element between the nodes at
the interface between the beam and column (nodes n102 and
n1020 in Figure 5).

Calibration of numerical model

The numerical model is calibrated by obtaining an appropriate
value for the initial brace camber. The influence of the brace
camber on the peak compression force resisted by the brace
and on the natural period of the global CBF system is assessed
and used to select the camber to be applied to the reference
Figure 4. Lengths used to determine out-of-plane flexural stiffness of rotational model braces. Initial values in the range of 0.1 to 1.0% of the
spring at gusset plate in the reference model.
overall brace length are considered, which are typical of the
practical recommendations to induce buckling in modelled
compression members.
be expected to result in the formation of a plastic hinge in the
gusset plate connection. In the reference model, the approach
Static pushover analysis
proposed by Hsiao, Lehman, and Roeder (2012) is employed,
in which the rotational spring is modelled using the Giuffre- Static pushover analysis is used to determine maximum brace
Menegotto-Pinto steel material model and assigned an initial axial compression and tension resistances for a range of spec-
flexural stiffness (Krot) determined from parameters based on ified initial cambers. In this analysis, increasing horizontal
the member sizes, properties and the design of the connection displacements (with constant gravity loading) are applied in
determined from the expression: 1 mm increments at roof level of the reference model (node
( ) n2), and the resulting brace member internal forces and base
E Ww t 3 reactions are recorded. This is repeated for a range of initial
Krot =
Lave 12 brace cambers from 0.1 to 1.0% of the brace length for the 12
brace-gusset plate specimens considered in the BRACED exper-
where E is Young’s modulus of steel, Ww is the Whitmore width imental programme. It is noted that convergence failures were
(Whitmore, 1950) defined by a 45° projection angle, Lave is the commonly observed when the camber was reduced below
average of L1, L2 and L3 as shown in Figure 4, where L1 and L3 are 0.1%. Figure 6 presents sample output from pushover analysis
found using a smaller projection angle of 30°, and t is the thick- of Test 2 showing the axial forces recorded in both the tension
ness of the gusset plate. The flexural strength of the non-linear and compression braces for a range of initial brace cambers.
rotational spring is calculated using the Whitmore cross section The peak compression force resisted by the model brace prior
of the gusset plate, and a post-yield stiffness of 1% of the ini- to global buckling is clearly sensitive to the magnitude of the
tial rotational stiffness is assumed. In the reference model, the initial camber applied. In contrast, the peak axial tension force
zero-length element is fully rigid in translation in all directions generated in the brace is not sensitive to the initial camber, but
and is assumed to be fully restrained against rotation in plane. the roof level displacement at which this force occurs does vary
A fibre-connection model is also considered as an alternative as the amount of brace straightening required increases with
means of representing the gusset plate. The fibre-connection increasing brace eccentricity.
model uses a force-based element with geometric and material The peak axial compression forces recorded in the braces
properties set to match those of the relevant gusset plate spec- during the pushover analysis are compared to the theoretical
imen. It is found that this method provides similar global and maximum design buckling resistance (Nb, Rd) of the brace cal-
local responses to the rotational spring connection used in the culated from Eurocode 3 (CEN, 2005) to assess the appropri-
reference model. In addition, the reference model is found to ateness of the range of initial cambers applied to the reference
produce fewer convergence failures when the rotational spring model braces. The theoretical buckling resistance of the brace
connection is used to model the gusset plate. is determined assuming an effective buckling length equal to
the distance from the end of the tubular hollow brace section
at the gusset plate to the centre of rotation in the MTS swivel
Beam to column connections
fixed to the shake table. Both ends of the brace are assumed to
RigidLink elements are used between certain nodes at the con- be fully pinned for the purpose of this calculation.
nections to represent the increased member bending stiffness The variation in peak brace axial compression expressed as
in these regions (bold elements, Figure 5). For the reference a percentage of the theoretical brace buckling resistance (Nb, Rd)
model in this study the extent of the rigidlink elements along with the initial camber of the modelled brace-gusset plate spec-
the beam and columns is determined by the location of the imens is shown in Figure 7. Applying an initial brace camber
stiffener plates provided on the experimental test frame. of 0.1% of the effective length overestimates Nb, Rd by 70% on
174   T. RYAN ET AL.

Figure 5. Model node and element arrangement at beam to column connections CA and CB.

Figure 6. Roof level displacement v brace axial compression and tension force from model pushover analyses of Test 2 brace arrangement for a range of initial brace

average. This average overestimation is reduced to less than reference model for each pair of brace-gusset plate specimens. It
10% for a camber of 1.0%. The experimentally measured peak is observed that the T1 value calculated for the reference model
brace compression values were also considered as a means of is sensitive to the initial camber applied at the midpoint of the
brace camber calibration, but these experimental values were brace member and to a lesser degree to the rotational stiffness
found to be much larger than the maximum compression forces assigned to the rotational spring at the beam-column connec-
observed in the numerical model with even very small values tion. The seismic response of a structural system to earthquake
of initial camber. The measured fundamental period of the test loading is strongly influenced by its natural period. Hence, com-
frame was therefore considered as an alternative basis for cali- paring the experimental T1 values measured during the initial
brating the reference model. white noise test runs with the eigensolution from OpenSees
for the reference model offers a rational basis of assessing the
appropriate camber to apply to the modelled brace members.
Eigenvector analysis
The variation in the T1 values with initial brace camber in
An eigenvalue analysis in OpenSees is used to determine the the reference model for each pair of brace-gusset plate speci-
natural frequency and, hence, the fundamental period (T1) of the mens is shown in Figure 8. It is clear that reducing the camber

Figure 9. Comparison of mean model T1 values expressed as a proportion of the

Figure 7. Effect of initial brace camber on maximum brace compression resistance mean experimental T1 values for brace member types S1 to S4.
(expressed as a percentage of theoretical bucking resistance) from pushover
analysis of model for BRACED Tests 1 to 12.

Considering the influence of initial brace camber on both the

brace buckling resistance and T1, an initial camber of 0.8% of the
brace effective length is adopted for the braces in the reference
model in this study. This camber is applied to the node at the
midpoint of each brace in the out-of-plane direction only. The
effects on the coordinates of all other nodes along the brace
are obtained by linear interpolation.

Non-linear time history analyses

The calibrated reference model is used to perform a series of
correlative non-linear time history analyses (NLTHA) of the
response of the test frame during each experimental test run.
The accelerograms used to represent the simulated earth-
quake ground motion applied to the model are the actual table
accelerations recorded during the corresponding test run. The
numerical modelling and solution methods are verified by
Figure 8. Comparison of model fundamental periods for a range of initial brace comparing the recorded responses from these NLTHA to the
cambers from eigenvalue analysis.
corresponding experimentally observed values.
A Krylov–Newton solution algorithm is used. This solution
also reduces T1, i.e. the lateral stiffness of the reference model algorithm tests convergence on the norm of the displacement
is increased. increment vector with a tolerance set to 1e-5 and a maximum
In Figure 9 these data are grouped by brace cross sec- number of iterations set to 10. A Newmark acceleration time
tion type (S1 to S4) and the numerically-modelled T1 values integration method is employed with γ = 0.5 and β = 0.25, (i.e.
are normalised by the values of T1 measured in the corre- assuming a constant acceleration over each time step). A stiff-
sponding experimental tests. The value of brace camber that ness proportional damping model with 3% of critical damping
leads to the closest match between the experimental and is used. This damping ratio is selected based on the damping
numerical T1 values varies by cross section size. For three values from the initial white noise tests (Table 2). The numerical
of the cross sections considered (S1, S2 and S3), the closest model response equations are formed using the BandGeneral
match is observed with a camber in the range 0.8 to 1.0%. system and the constraints are enforced with a transformation
For S4 cross sections, best agreement occurs with a camber constraint handler. A constant time-step of 0.1953  s is used
of approximately 0.5%. For test set-ups with identical brace throughout the NLTHAs to be consistent with the experimen-
sizes, the variations in the modelled T1 values are found to tal data sampling rate.
be consistent with the variation of the angle of inclination A total of 36 test runs are simulated, with each gusset-brace
of the braces. This angle differs slightly between tests due to specimen pair subjected to ground motion intensities corre-
the different gusset plate arrangements. For identical brace sponding to Operation Basis (OBE), Contingency Level (CLE) and
sizes, a lower angle of inclination leads to a shorter modelled Maximum Credible Earthquake (MCE) levels. For each simulated
T1 value. test run the acceleration and drift at roof level and the axial ten-
The observation that the variation in the experimentally sion and compression forces in each brace member are output
measured structural periods between tests is less than expected and compared to the corresponding experimental responses.
given the relative sizes of the brace members in different tests Figures 10 and 11 compare the roof level acceleration and
suggests that additional secondary sources of flexibility, such drift time-history plots of two OpenSees reference model
as minor bolt slippage, member imperfections, etc. may also responses with the corresponding experimental data. The
have influenced the measured T1 values. test run responses presented are for earthquakes of different
176   T. RYAN ET AL.

Figure 10. Time-history plots comparing reference model and experimental acceleration and drift responses of a test with CA type connection subject to CLE level
ground motion.

intensity level and for tests with gusset connection configura- CA type connections. The extent of peak drift underestimation
tion types CA and CB, respectively. The plots generally show generally increases with increasing ground motion intensity,
good fidelity between the model and experimental responses with the exception of frames with connection configuration
for both configurations at each intensity level. type CB subjected to the highest intensity level (MCE), where the
Peak model roof acceleration, drift and brace axial tension reference model overestimates peak drift by 30% on average.
and compression response values are identified for each simu- At the MCE level intensity, greater brace yielding and buck-
lated test run and expressed as a percentage of the correspond- ling occurs along with corresponding larger roof level displace-
ing peak experimental values. These values are grouped and ments. Brace failure is generally observed during the MCE level
plotted by ground motion intensity and gusset plate configu- experimental runs. Roof level displacements in such test runs
ration type (CA or CB) in Figures 12–15. are limited in part by the rotation allowed at the beam-column
In frames with type CA connections, the gusset is connected
Relative acceleration
to both the beam and column and acts as a haunch, limiting
The peak experimental acceleration is more reliably estimated significant rotation at the beam-column interface. The model
by the reference model in frames with gusset plate arrangement represents the CA type connection as a fully rigid connection
type CA for all ground motion intensities. Peak acceleration between beam and column, allowing no rotation at the joint.
is overestimated for OBE and CLE ground motion intensities The observed underestimation of peak drift by the model for
with both connection types, although scatter is observed to frames with type CA connections at the MCE level intensity
reduce as the intensity increases. Scatter reduces considerably may be due in part to the model overestimating the rotational
and the peak acceleration is best estimated by the reference resistance provided at the beam-column connection by the
model at the highest ground motion intensity (MCE). At this gusset plate.
level of earthquake loading, the peak acceleration response is In frames with type CB connections, the gusset is fixed to
governed by ultimate resistance of the frame to lateral loads. the beam only, therefore no haunch is present to limit rota-
tion at the beam-column interface. The model represents
the CB type connection as a fully pinned rotational spring
between the beam and column, allowing full rotation at the
The peak experimental drift values are generally underesti- joint. The overestimation of drift by the reference model
mated by the reference model. The average drift underestima- in MCE level simulations of frames with type CB connec-
tion across the three intensity levels varies from 17 to 38% for tions may be partly attributable to the use of a fully pinned

Figure 11. Time-history plots comparing reference model and experimental acceleration and drift responses of a test with CB type connection subject to OBE level
ground motion.

Figure 12. Comparison of peak acceleration by gusset plate configuration.

rotational spring to model the beam-column connection in length lead to the under-estimation of peak drift increasing
this arrangement when the true nature of the connection from 10 to 43%.
is semi-rigid.
Inspection of time-history analyses found that the reference Brace axial forces
model drift was sensitive to initial brace camber value, with
smaller initial cambers resulting in greater underestimation The reference model significantly underestimates peak brace
of experimental drift. Figure 14 illustrates this for test Run052 axial compression forces for both connection types across all
where reducing the brace camber from 0.8 to 0.1% of the brace ground motion intensities (Figure 15) for all bar one experimental
178   T. RYAN ET AL.

Figure 13. Comparison of peak drift by gusset plate configuration.

Figure 14. Model drift response in Run052 (MCE level ground motion) for 0.8 and 0.1% initial brace eccentricities.

test run. This follows from the static pushover analyses of the ref- large as the peak experimental values regardless of the initial
erence model which showed that the peak compression forces brace eccentricity value.
that can develop in modelled braces subjected to an initial cam- Peak brace axial tension is more accurately represented in
ber of 0.8% are always less than the observed peak experimental all cases (Figure 16). Scatter reduces in both sets of results as
values. Furthermore, these analyses established that the refer- ground motion intensity increases as the response is governed
ence model braces cannot develop peak compression forces as by the ultimate resistance of the frame to lateral loads, and the

Figure 15. Comparison of peak brace axial compression force by gusset plate configuration.

Figure 16. Comparison of peak brace tension forces by gusset plate configuration.

peak tension force developed in the model braces is independ- resistance and the model frame structural period (T1) were both
ent of the initial brace camber. observed to be sensitive to the magnitude of this camber. It
was found that an initial camber of 0.8% of the brace effective
length satisfactorily represented both the theoretical buckling
Conclusions resistance of the brace and the experimental natural periods of
The response of CBF structures to earthquake loading is largely the test frames measured in initial white noise tests. The camber
dependent on the behaviour of the brace members when sub- is applied at the brace mid-point in the out-of-plane direction
jected to cyclic tension and compression axial loading. Accurate only, and the brace segments on either side of the mid-point
prediction of CBF response to earthquake loading, therefore, are linear.
requires consideration of brace properties such as tensile yield- The performance of the OpenSees model was assessed by
ing, strain hardening, resistance to buckling and post-buckling comparing key responses recorded during NLTHA with the
resistance. experimentally recorded responses. The modelled response
In this study, a robust numerical model was developed for a of the test CBF was observed to be stiffer than the experimen-
tally observed response, and the model appears to generally
single storey CBF test frame using the OpenSees computational
underestimate the experimental drift response. This under-
platform. Data from a series of shake table tests on a full-scale
estimate increased with increasing ground motion intensity.
single-storey test frame was used to calibrate the OpenSees
For CBFs where the brace is connected to both the beam and
model. In total, 12 pairs of identical brace-gusset plate speci- the column (CA connections), the average modelled peak drift
mens were tested which consisted of various combinations of ranged from 83% of the measured value at the lower inten-
brace cross section size, brace connection configuration and sity Operating Basis Earthquake to 62% at Maximum Credible
gusset plate design. Tests were carried out using a ground Earthquake level. In frames where the brace is connected to
motion record appropriately scaled to produce elastic response, the beam only (CB connections), the average modelled peak
brace buckling/yielding and ultimately brace fracture. drift was between 86% and 65% of the experimental values
The OpenSees model used two force-based non-linear at lower ground motion intensities, but rose to 130% at the
beam-column elements to represent each brace. An initial cam- MCE level. Closer results may have been achieved if the rota-
ber was applied at the mid-point of the brace to simulate the tional spring at the beam-column connection was assigned
effects of global member buckling. The model brace buckling a finite stiffness in the frames with type CB connections (this
180   T. RYAN ET AL.

connection detail was modelled as fully pinned in the refer- Broderick, B., Hunt, A., Mongabure, P., Goggins, J., Salawdeh, S., O’Reilly,
ence model). G., Beg, D., Moze, P., Sinur, F., & A. Elghazouli (2013). Brace response and
assessment: Computation, Experiments and Design (BRACED). Seismic
Peak brace compression was consistently underestimated
engineering research infrastructures for European synergies (SERIES)
by the reference model and was found to be sensitive to the (Project No.227887). Brussels: Seventh Framework Programme,
initial camber applied to the brace. Reducing initial brace Capacities Specific Programme, Research Infrastructure.
camber to 0.1% of the brace length improves prediction of CEN. (2004). EN 1998-1:2004, Eurocode 8: Design of structures for earthquake
peak brace compression forces but also increases frame stiff- resistance-part 1: General rules, seismic actions and rules for buildings.
Brussels: European Committee of Standardisation.
ness, leading to greater underestimation of drift. The peak
CEN. (2005). EN 1993-1-1:2005, Eurocode 3: Design of steel structures - Part
recorded experimental brace compression forces are signifi- 1.1: General rules and rules for buildings. Brussels: European Committee
cantly greater than the theoretical buckling resistance of the of Standardisation.
braces for all specimens. Applying a camber of 0.8% of the CEN. (2009). EN 1993-1-3, Eurocode 3: Design of steel structures - Part 1–3:
overall brace length appeared to give the best overall rep- General rules - Supplementary rules for cold-formed members and sheeting.
Brussels: European Committee for Standardisation.
resentation of both drift and brace forces measured in all tests.
Chopra, A.K. (2006). Dynamics of structures: Theory and application to
The reference model achieved more accurate predictions earthquake engineering. (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River: NJ: Prentice Hall.
of peak relative accelerations in CBFs with CA connections for Cooley, J.W., & Tukey, J.W. (1965). An algorithm for the machine calculation
all ground motion intensities. In general, the peak accelera- of complex Fourier series. Mathematics of Computation, 19, 297–297.
tion response was underestimated at low level ground motion Elghazouli, A.Y., Broderick, B.M., Goggins, J., Mouzakis, H., Carydis, P.,
Bouwkamp, J., & Plumier, A. (2005). Shake table testing of tubular
intensities, and accurately predicted at high-level intensities.
steel bracing members. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-
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which are overestimated at lower ground-motion intensities but Goggins, J. (2004). Earthquake resistant hollow and filled steel braces (PhD
are typically within 10% of the experimentally recorded values Thesis). Trinity College, University of Dublin, Dublin.
at higher intensity ground motions. Goggins, J., & Salawdeh, S. (2013). Validation of nonlinear time history
analysis models for single-storey concentrically braced frames using full-
Numerical models play a large role in the development and
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parametric studies to assess the response of various structural Hsiao, P.-C., Lehman, D.E., & Roeder, C.W. (2012). Improved analytical model
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tural and non-structural damage effects and, in combination
under seismic loading (PhD Thesis). Trinity College, University of Dublin,
with member forces, to predict structural failure and collapse. Dublin.
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non-linear numerical model to represent concentrically braced OpenSees: Open system for eartquake engineering simulation. Retrieved
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Menegotto, M., & Pinto, P.E. (1973). Method of analysis for cyclic loaded R. C.
to earthquake loading, the choice of initial brace camber applied
Plane frame including changes in geometry and non-elastic behaviour
has a significant impact on the response of the model. of elements under combined normal force and bending. Proceedings of
While previous studies have evaluated the performance of IABSE Symposium on Resistance and Ultimate Deformability of Structures
numerical models of braced frames through comparison with Acted On by Well Defined Repeated Loads (pp. 15–22). Lisbon: IABSE.
quasi-static cyclic test results, the research described here repre- PEER. (2010). Ground Motion Database [online] Retrieved from http://
sents the only full evaluation of the ability of a numerical model
Roeder, C.W., Lumpkin, E.J., & Lehman, D.E. (2011). A balanced design
to capture the ultimate non-linear dynamic response of a full- procedure for special concentrically braced frame connections.
scale test frame to realistic earthquake loads. Consequently, Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 67, 1760–1772. doi:10.1016/j.
while the recommended modelling techniques produced in jcsr.2011.04.016
this paper can be employed to achieve optimum performance Salawdeh, S., & Goggins, J. (2013). Numerical simulation for steel brace
members incorporating a fatigue model. Engineering Structures, 46,
in future modelling studies, the magnitudes of the difference
between the measured and modelled frame responses are also Salawdeh, S., & Goggins, J. (2016). Performance based design approach
of considerable interest in guiding the interpretation and use for multi-storey concentrically braced steel frames. Steel and Composite
of future modelling results. Structures, 20, 749–776.
Salawdeh, S., English, J., Goggins, J., Elghazouli, A.Y., Hunt, A., & Broderick,
B.M. (2017). Shake table assessment of gusset plate connection
behaviour in concentrically braced frames. Journal of Constructional
Disclosure statement Steel Research, 138, 432–448.
Uriz, P., Filippou, F.C., & Mahin, S.A. (2008). Model for cyclic inelastic
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
buckling of steel braces. Journal of Structural Engineering, 134, 619–628.
Uriz, P., & Mahin, S.A. (2008). Toward earthquake-resistant design of
Funding concentrically braced steel-frame structures (Vol. PEER Report 2008).
University of California, Berkeley: Pacific Earthquake Engineering
This work was supported by the EC FP7 Capacities Specific Programme, Research Center (PEER).
Research Infrastructures, ‘Seismic engineering research infrastructures for Welch, P. (1967). The use of fast Fourier transform for the estimation of
European synergies (SERIES)’ [Grant number: 227887]. power spectra: A method based on time averaging over short, modified
periodograms. Audio and Electroacoustics, IEEE Transactions on, 15, 70–73.
Whitmore, R.E. (1950). Experimental investigation of stresses in gusset plates.
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