Swinging the
Dynamic Properties of Buildings: Experimental and Numerical Methods
Time period and mode shapes are two of the most important dynamic properties of buildings. These are the pre-requisite parameters for the analysis and design of buildings for random type of loads, like wind and earthquakes. Response of a building to dynamic loads depends primarily on the characteristics of both the excitation force and the natural dynamic properties of the building. These properties can be computed both analytically and experimentally. For analytical method, 3D finite element-based modeling and analysis methods, and software are used. High sensitivity electronic sensors (velocity sensors) are popularly used as tool for insitu measurement of the dynamic properties (microtremor excitations method). This paper presents an over view of theoretical background, site measurements and analytical for methods computing the key dynamic properties of buildings. Two existing reinforced concrete buildings (53 and 27-story) have been used as case studies.

About the Authors

Background Theory
The general equation of dynamic with usual notations can be presented in the following form:
ma + cv + kd = p ……… (Eq. 1)

If the force (p) and damping (c) terms are set to zero, the system reduces to: ……… (Eq. 2) ma = − kd Substituting T = 2πw and a = -w2 d, we get;
T = 1 2π m k
Dr. Pennung Warnitchai Associate Professor of Structural Dynamic and Seismic Design, AIT

……… (Eq. 3)

Eq. 3 shows that the time period (T) and mode shapes are natural properties of buildings and independent of loads.

In the time domain technique, responsetime history is employed directly in the identification of dynamic properties of structure. In the frequency domain technique, response-time histor y has to be firstly converted into frequency domain by Fourier analysis.

Site Measurement of Dynamic Properties
Theoretical Background for Experimental Method
Two common methods for processing the velocity/ acceleration measurements at the site are: • Time domain technique • Frequency domain technique In the time domain technique, response-time history is employed directly in the identification

Buddhi S. Sharma Manager, ACECOMS, AIT

Suda Taleongpong Chief Structural Designer of the buildings.

September 2003 - March 2004


and calculate vibration mode shapes from the spectral ratio method. Torsional mode can be identified if the phase difference between the two sensors is 180 . as shown in Figure 2. traffic) consists of two high sensitivity 3-axis velocity sensors. response-time history has to be firstly converted into frequency domain by Fourier analysis. as shown in Figure 1. Identification of Natural Frequencies – Site Method To obtain the natural frequencies. the phase difference between the two sensors must be zero. (point A and B. For frequency measurement. For mode shape measurement.Article acquisition system and a computer notebook. the frequency domain technique gives a better physical interpretation than the time domain technique. because it presents the response of buildings in frequency spectrum form. the vibration measurements taken for a given time period at site are converted to frequency based plots. The frequency corresponding to the peaks of the plots represents the natural frequency of the building. typically two velocity sensors are placed at opposite corners of a building top. For translational modes. The pre-processing includes recording of velocity from two sensors for two principal directions as shown in Figure 4. as shown in Figure 3) which can record the velocity responses in two orthogonal directions (X-Y). Figure 3: Typical Floor Plan and Location of Sensors The site measurement work can be divided basically into the following three tasks: (1) The pre-processing analysis (2) The identification of natural frequencies. and (3) The identification of vibration mode shapes. In general. typically at the top of a staircase duct) and sensor B is placed vertically down along the height of the building. one of the velocity sensors (A) is fixed at some reference point (R. Figure 1: Time domain to Frequency domain Conversion of dynamic properties of structure. This frequency spectrum can then be used directly to identify the natural frequencies from the peak values of Fourier magnitude. using mathematical tools. The above signals are converted to Fourier amplitude and phase spectra as shown in Figure 5 and 6. While in the frequency domain technique. Dynamic properties are then extracted from the frequency spectrum.March 2004 . the vibration modes can be classified into translational and torsional modes by determining the phase angles of Fourier spectra. Identification of Vibration Mode Shapes at Site Site Measurement Devices and Methods The key devices used for the measurements of vibration responses of building under natural conditions (wind. Although both techniques can be employed to identify the dynamic properties of buildings. 24-bit data Figure 2: Measuring Devices (Velocity Sensors and Signal Acquisition System) 6 September 2003 . The peak frequencies of these plots represent the natural frequencies of vibration modes.

immediately after removing the human excitation to estimate other useful dynamic properties (damping. ‘Human exciter team’ (4-6 persons) as shown in Figure 7. The objectives of this task are: (1) To verify the natural frequencies of buildings estimated by ambient vibration measurements. The measurements were taken first at the top floor of a building and along the staircase. imparts a harmonic force to the building. This verifies that the initially estimated frequencies under ambient vibration are the correct natural frequency of the building. The results are shown in the following plots.Improving Ambient Vibration by Human Excitation The natural vibration modes of the building can be excited by human forces! The human force.) Figure 7 shows the human exciters on the top floor of a 53-story building and Figure 8 shows the harmonic-like responses due to that excitation. etc. The ambient and controlled human excitation responses in two orthogonal translation directions were recorded by two sensors. Figure 8 also shows the results under human excitation at 1. and (2) To study the free vibration responses of the buildings. Figure 7: Human Exciters on the Top Floor of the Tower – Swinging the Building! Figure 8: Harmonic-like Response After a Human Excitation Figure 6: Sample Phase Difference Plots for Two Sensors September 2003 . pushes the building near the top following a beep sound given by an electronic metronome at a frequency synchronized to pre-estimated frequency of the building.March 2004 7 . Figure 5: Typical Fourier Spectrum of Each Section and Average Fourier Spectrum for One of the Channels Figure 4: Velocity-time History from Ambient Vibration Case Studies Tower 1: 53-Story RC Building (43x61x210m high) Tower 2: 27-Story RC Building (26x30x95m high) Results for Tower 1 Table 1 (on next page) shows the schematic plan of Tower 1.27 Hz. if applied at constant time interval (very close to natural frequency) for some time.

Location of Velocity Points and Normalized Mode Shapes for Tower 1 and Tower 2 Tower Normalized Mode Shapes Mode 1 Normalized Mode Shapes Mode 2 Normalized Mode Shapes Mode 3 September 2003 .8 Table 1: Schematic Floor Plan.March 2004 Tower 1: 53-story Tower 2: 27-story Mode Shapes Not Available .

A small deviation near the top of the second order mode shapes was noticed for the 53-story tower.80 1.25 0. The pile foundation was modeled using linear springs.25 Comparison of the Results A close match between the experimental and analytical methods was found. Table 2: Natural Frequencies of Tower 1 Mode X-Translation 1 Y-Translation 1 Torsion 1 X-Translation 2 Y-Translation 2 Torsion 2 X-Translation 3 Y-Translation 3 Torsion 3 Natural Frequency f(Hz) 0.31 0.Article Tower 1: 53-story Tower 2: 27-story Figure 9: 3D Finite Element Model of Tower 1 and Tower 2 Analytical Method for Dynamic Properties 3D finite element method. was used to extract the modal frequencies and shapes of the two towers.27 2. Figure 9 shows the 3D models of the towers and some mode shapes.34 0.27 1.04 1. Plate and shell elements were used to model the slab and walls. Line elements were used to model the beams and columns.53 1.43 1.80 3.05 0.66 0.70 2.March 2004 9 .86 1. Mode X-Translation 1 Y-Translation 1 Torsion 1 X-Translation 2 Y-Translation 2 Torsion 2 X-Translation 3 Y-Translation 3 Torsion 3 Natural Frequency f(Hz) 0.70 2. Areas springs were applied to the basement walls.22 Figure 10: Sample Fourier Spectrum in Ydirection at Sensor-A Table 3: Natural Frequencies of Tower 2 September 2003 . combined with Eigen or Ritz vector solver.

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