16, 537–541 (2007) Published online in Wiley Interscience ( DOI: 10.1002/tal.436

MACTEC Engineering and Consulting, Inc., Los Angeles, California, USA



In the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001, there was a feeling that tall buildings were a relic of an age that had passed into oblivion because the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers in New York exposed the USA and whole world to the new reality of terrorism on a massive scale that had never been expected or experienced before. The World Trade Center had been a target of an earlier terrorist attack on 26 February 1993 when a car bomb was detonated in the parking structure beneath Tower One. The World Trade Center was targeted because it was a symbol of the USA and the financial system that underpins the nation. In 2001, the terrorists succeeded on the second try with the help of two airliners that crashed into the two towers. The events of September 11 brought a chill on the future of tall buildings. However, after some time of reflection, there is a new rush to be the tallest building in the world. The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur lost its title to the Taipei Financial Center (Taipei 101) (Figure 1). The Burj Dubai Tower in the country of Dubai promises to be 300 metres higher at a height of a staggering 808 metres (about one-half-mile high) when completed in 2008 (Figure 2). Many super tall buildings are being planned in the USA (New York, Chicago and Las Vegas), Russia, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Germany, Kuwait and other countries. Time will tell if all of these buildings will actually be built, but the tall building has regained and even enhanced its position as a symbol of prominence, prestige, wealth and accomplishment. 1. THE RESURGENCE OF TALL BUILDINGS IN THE USA

Although there is some discussion about changing the design of the proposed Freedom Tower to be constructed on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City to be taller than the Burj Dubai Tower, the resurgence in the interest to construct tall buildings in the USA is being driven more by market forces and the reality of living in the urban environment. The value of time and the high cost of gasoline may be part of the economic drivers that have sparked renewed interest in urban living and a return to the central city or downtown areas of many cities, which is a reverse trend from living in the suburbs as in the past. The convenience of having all of the services one needs in a single building is now becoming a reality with mixed-use buildings; some of these buildings may also bring the prospect of being able to live and work without leaving the building. Thus, the increased interest in tall buildings in the USA is due more to a utilitarian nature as the projects still must also be economically viable.

* Correspondence to: Marshall Lew, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting, Inc., 5628 E. Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90040, USA. E-mail:

Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ltd.1002/tal . Taipei Financial Center (aka Taipei 101) Figure 2. LEW Figure 1. Owings & Merrill) Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons.538 M. Design Tall Spec. 16. Struct. Burj Dubai Tower (Skidmore. Build. 537–541 (2007) DOI: 10.

DESIGN OF TALL BUILDINGS IN HIGH-SEISMIC REGIONS 539 1. Some of these developments may have a mixed use. including residential. when it comes to tall buildings. Driven primarily by development in the residential market. Certainly. 1. which are either based on the International Building Code or the Uniform Building Code (in California). building heights and performance limits. office and commercial development. The Los Angeles Tall Buildings Structural Design Council is actively involved in the development of a new framework for performance-based design for tall buildings in Los Angeles through sponsoring workshops. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. Using alternative procedures. particularly in Los Angeles and San Francisco. there has been much discussion about attaining equivalent performance using performance-based design methods. Struct. the skylines of these cities will be altered significantly. 537–541 (2007) DOI: 10. After nearly a decade of inactivity in tall building construction. the codes are not well suited to tall buildings in high-seismic areas and are very restrictive. Some engineers even consider that the codes may even be dangerous and may not meet the objective of providing a design that is safe. San Diego and Seattle. it is believed that some 50 tall buildings are either planned or in construction in Los Angeles at the present time. thus. which may be used in lieu of those prescribed in the provisions of the building code. There has been an active debate. Design Tall Spec. San Francisco. designers are using performance-based approaches that will enable construction using new framing systems that extend to heights beyond the limitations that are in the prescriptive building code provisions. In particular. many designers have gone the route of designing tall buildings using alternative procedures as allowed in the building codes. Alternative lateral-force procedures are defined as procedures using rational analyses based on well-established principles of mechanics. Build. regarding what would be the acceptable alternative procedures and what basic code requirements must still be maintained to ensure the safety and sustainability of tall buildings following future earthquakes. the codes have become a deterrent to the development of this class of construction. There is a general feeling that the codes are sufficient for the large majority of buildings that are not classified as tall buildings. CHALLENGES IN THE DESIGN OF TALL BUILDINGS IN HIGH-SEISMIC AREAS Many designers in the USA have found that there is a difficulty in designing tall buildings in high-seismic regions using the present provisions of the current building codes. from experience. 16. however. In response to this challenge. it appears that tall buildings designed in strict conformance to the codes are not economical and. building systems. there are many tall building projects in construction or in planning in Los Angeles. THE RESURGENCE OF TALL BUILDINGS IN CALIFORNIA AND OTHER HIGH-SEISMIC REGIONS The state of California and the west coast of the USA have also seen a renewed interest in the development of tall buildings to meet the new urban needs. there are about 30 tall buildings planned for San Francisco. If most of these buildings are ultimately constructed. and development of the Council’s own criteria document. These codes are very prescriptive by the general nature of all codes and have many restrictions on materials. Ltd. The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) is undertaking the Tall Buildings Initiative to develop a framework for seismic design of tall buildings in California and similar environments. many of the new tall buildings consist of condominiums and/or apartments.1002/tal . The goal of the Tall Buildings Initiative is to develop a guideline document containing principles and specific criteria for the seismic design of tall buildings in the next 2 years. holding meetings presenting the latest information and research. Although the numbers change quite often.

the long return period results in more uncertainty in the events. the uncertainty included in the analysis is large. however. Struct. there is even a greater uncertainty as to the characteristics of the spectral ordinates of the ground motion spectra at these long periods. a suite of acceleration-time histories is needed to represent the MCE ground motions. To further try to capture these characteristics in a suite of at least seven time histories by just amplitude scaling is even more impossible. the response spectra of the time histories must match the design spectra within a range of structural periods that may be from 0·2 T to 1·5 T. The development of the design criteria for performance-based seismic design may include provisions to ensure that a tall building will not collapse under a very rare event such as the maximum considered earthquake (MCE) ground motion (usually defined as those ground motions having a 2% probability of being exceeded in 50 years. First. most current ground motion attenuation relations do not extend to more than 2–5 s. As the MCE design spectra are estimated from the PSHA for a very long return period. There are several important reasons why this is the case. Generally. there is an uncertainty coming from the reality that there are very few recorded ground motions at close distances for large-magnitude events. It is more likely to be representative of several earthquakes with differing magnitudes and distances from the source to the site. Thus. given the estimated activity of the sources and the site characteristics for that given level of risk. Thus. As many of the new proposed tall buildings are well over 30 storeys to over 70 storeys. LEW ISSUES RELATED TO EARTHQUAKE GROUND MOTIONS FOR THE DESIGN OF TALL BUILDINGS IN HIGH-SEISMIC AREAS It is very apparent that the specification of the earthquake ground motions is very important in the process of designing a tall building. the design spectra are not likely to be representative of a single earthquake with a given moment magnitude and distance. the fundamental period may be as high as 8–10 s. or having a return period of about 2400 years). Build. While many feel that it is best to use actual earthquake time histories with minimal modification or scaling for the nonlinear dynamic structural analysis. To try to capture all of these characteristics in a single time history by just amplitude scaling is impossible. it is possible that the shorter periods of the MCE design spectra are dominated by a large local event with a moment magnitude in the range around 7.1002/tal . including the style of faulting. and the dispersion of the results increases the ground motion estimates. Third. it represents a conglomeration of the contributions of every seismic source according to its activity rates for the given seismic risk level. It is also possible that the MCE design spectra are dominated by just local events. As the performance-based seismic design will generally dictate that a nonlinear dynamic analysis should be performed for the tall building system. 16. where T is the fundamental period of the building. The MCE ground motion is usually represented initially in the form of uniform hazard response spectra that is the result of a probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) that considers all of the seismic sources in the surrounding region of the site. Design Tall Spec. a uniform hazard response spectra do not represent a single earthquake event. Second. but may be due to multiple sources with different characteristics. there is little guidance to constrain ground motion attenuation relations that attempt to model ground motions at these distances and magnitudes. First. Ltd. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The PEER Next Generation Attenuation of Ground Motions Project provides a promise in the development of attenuation relations that extend to longer periods that are of most important interest in the design of tall buildings. rather.540 1. Current building codes have requirements that time histories must meet to be representative of the ground motion design spectra. There have been methodologies developed to modify actual time histories to match the design spectra by either manipulation in the frequency domain or by adding packets of sine waves. M. 537–541 (2007) DOI: 10. thus. it is virtually impossible to find any set of time histories that can be matched to the design spectra by only adjusting the amplitude uniformly at all time steps. while the longer periods could be dominated by a large earthquake event that are more distant. quesCopyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons.

there are additional considerations in high-seismic areas. However. 1. As the design spectra may also have contributions from multiple seismic sources. The public’s expectation of the performance of tall buildings may be different from what structural engineers had been believing to be expected performance (life safety). it may be more realistic and perhaps even more desirable to use a set of time histories that model the design spectra over different ranges of period so that all of the periods are represented by the spectral envelope of multiple time histories. If these effects are to be accounted for in the uniform hazard design spectra. 537–541 (2007) DOI: 10. Ltd. In this manner.DESIGN OF TALL BUILDINGS IN HIGH-SEISMIC REGIONS 541 tions arise as to the validity of these manipulated time histories. finding appropriate actual acceleration-time histories with these effects embedded becomes a further challenge. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons. including structural and non-structural issues. There are some feelings among practicing professionals in the development of ground motions that there must be changes in the code prescriptions regarding the design ground motions having to conform to the design spectra across the wide range of structural periods. time histories for recordings for events having different styles of faulting can be included. will need to be addressed in an expedient manner as there are many tall buildings being planned and in construction at the present time. as the energy content is greatly modified and in most cases does not match the real world. As the occupancy and the costs of the construction go higher. it may be possible to incorporate special effects such as near-source and directivity without modifying the recordings in a manner that may compromise the integrity of the record. The boom in construction in tall buildings has pushed the envelope in many areas including seismic-resistant design. Tall building sites near active seismic sources that now dictate that near-source and directivity effects should be taken into account as part of the evolution of the state of practice. Build. Even in the development of the uniform hazard design spectra. It is hoped that some of those remaining issues will begin to be addressed in this volume. The current re-examination of the design of tall buildings is a healthy exercise in the evolution of the design process. changes in the current building codes would be needed. OTHER ISSUES IN THE DESIGN OF TALL BUILDINGS IN HIGH-SEISMIC AREAS Ground motion issues and other issues. so have been the expectations. There are still some practical considerations on how these effects should be accounted for in the context of the PSHA analysis. Design Tall Spec. 16. Rather than attempting to find or manufacture time histories that meet the spectral requirements. These buildings will likely still be in service into the next century and may be subjected to severe ground motions not previously experienced by tall buildings before. Struct.1002/tal . to be able to do this.

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