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World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 50 2009

Seismic Performance of Knee Braced Frame

Mina Naeemi and Majid Bozorg

the brace was not designed for compression and thus allowed
Abstract— In order to dissipate input earthquake energy in the to buckle. Consequently, the hysteretic response of this
Moment Resisting Frame (MRF) and Concentrically Braced Frame structure will be very similar to that of CBF with pinching in
(CBF), inelastic deformation in main structural members, requires the hysteretic loops, which is not a desirable feature for
high expense to repair or replace the damaged structural parts. The
new proposed knee braced frame in which the diagonal brace provide
energy dissipation.
most of the lateral stiffness and the knee anchor that is a secondary
member, provides ductility through flexural yielding. In this case, the II. SAMPLE MODELS OF FRAMES
structural damages caused by an earthquake will be concentrated on In Fig. 1 different types of KBF systems are shown. They
these members, which can be easily replaced by reasonable cost.
are referred to as (a) K-knee braced frame (b) X-knee braced
In this investigation, using non-linear and linear static analysis of
several knee Braced Frames (KBF), the seismic behavior of this frame (c) knee braced frame with single brace and one knee
system is assessed for controlling the vulnerability of the main and element (d) knee braced frame with single brace and with two
the secondary elements. Seismic parameters and mechanism of knee elements.
plastic hinges formation of both frame types are investigated by
using the non-linear analysis.

Keywords—knee braced frame, seismic parameters, energy

Fig. 1 Different knee brace frames: (a) K-KBF, (b) X-KBF, (c) KBF
I. INTRODUCTION with single brace and 1KE, (d) KBF with single brace and 2KEs

T HE seismic design of steel structures must satisfy two

main criteria. These structures must have adequate
strength and stiffness to control interstory drift in order that
The optimal shape of KBF is selected from the above
systems according to the elastic analysis results of them. And
prevent damage to the structural and non-structural elements the optimal angle of the knee element achieved when the
during moderate but frequent excitations. frame has the maximum stiffness, which the tangential ratio of
Under extreme seismic excitations, the structures must have (b/h)/(B/H) is nearly one, it means that the knee element
sufficient strength and ductility to prevent collapse. MRF and should be parallel to the diagonal direction of the frame, and
CBF have been used as lateral load resisting structural systems the diagonal element passes through the mid point of the knee
in steel buildings, since stiffness and ductility are generally element and the beam-column intersection, as shown in Fig. 2.
two opposing properties, neither of MRF or CBF, alone can
economically fulfill these two criteria.
Although the MRF is good for ductility and the CBF is
good for stiffness, by combining the good features of these
two systems into a hybrid system, an economical seismic- H = 3m
resistant structural system can be obtained. One such system is B = 4m
Eccentric Braced Frame (EBF) proposed by Roeder and
Popov [2].
Recently, Aristizabal Ochoa [3] has proposed an
alternative system, the Knee Braced Frame (KBF). In this
system, the knee element acts as a `ductile fuse` to prevent
collapse of the structure under extreme seismic excitations by
dissipating energy through flexural yielding. A diagonal brace = 0.25 → h = 0.75m
with at least one end connected to the knee element provides H
most of the elastic lateral stiffness. In this system, however, B 4 b
= = 1.33, = 1.33 → b = 1.0m
H 3 h
M. Naeemi was with Department of Civil Engineering, Iran University of Fig. 2 The selected shape and dimension of the sample frames
Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran., (e-mail:
M. Bozorg, is with Engineering Department, Tarbiat Modares University,
Tehran, Iran. (Phone: 21-88876283; e-mail:
In this study the framing systems with two equal side spans
4m long are braced and length of the middle span is 5m. The

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 50 2009

number of frame stories is selected so that investigates the for more flexible buildings with a fundamental period greater
rigid, semi-rigid, moderate and ductile structures. Therefore than one second; the analysis should be considered addressing
the frames are chosen in four levels 5-story, 10-story, 15- higher mode effects. The higher mode effects maybe
story, and 20-story. For instant, the 5-story frame is shown in determined by loading progressively applied in proportion to a
Fig. 3 mode shape other than the fundamental mode shape.
The step by step procedures are as followed:
1) Create a computer model of the structure and apply
gravity loads. It is necessary to define bilinear model
behavior for each member. (The bilinear models
which represent the plastic joint behavior of
SAP2000 defaults are used for beams and columns in
this paper and the models which relate to plastic joint
behavior of knee and diagonal elements represented
in next section.)
2) Apply lateral story forces to the structure in
proportion to the product of the mass and
fundamental mode shape.
3) Increase the lateral force level until some element (or
a group of elements) yields and revise the model
using zero (or very small) stiffness for the yielding
4) Apply new increment of lateral load to the revised
Fig. 3 An example of under-study frames structure such that other elements yields and the
structure reaches an ultimate limit, such as: reaching
III. LOADING AND DESIGN the lateral displacement of control point (roof level) a
limit state as defined follow for design earthquake:
The gravity loads include dead and live load of 600kg/m2
∆ m < 0.025h T < 0.7 sec
and 200kg/m2 respectively. To calculate the equivalent static
lateral seismic loads Refer to “(1),” assume that the behavior ∆ m < 0.020h T ≥ 0.7 sec
factor R for Knee-bracing system is 7. Where ∆ m is inelastic displacement of the control point, h
is the story height, and T is the first mode of structure.
V = C.W
5) Record the base shear and the roof-displacement so
A.B.I (1) that create the capacity curve which represents the
R nonlinear behavior of structure.

Where V is the base shear, A is design base acceleration V. FORCE-DISPLACEMENT RELATION OF COMPONENTS
ratio (for very high seismic zone=0.35g), B is response factor Component behavior generally will be modeled using
of building (is depending on the basic period T), and I is the nonlinear load-deformation relations defined by a series of
importance factor of building (is depending on the building straight line segments. Fig. 4 illustrates two kinds of
performance considered 1.0 in this paper). representations which are used for computer modeling that is
All of the frames are designed according to the AISC89, created according to modeling parameters and acceptance
allowable stress design. criteria for nonlinear approach in FEMA273.


The most basic inelastic analysis method is the complete 1.4

nonlinear time history analysis, which at this time is 1.2

considered overly complex and impractical for general use. 1

Available simplified nonlinear analysis method referred to as


nonlinear static analysis procedures. This method uses a series 0.6
of sequential elastic analysis, superimposed to approximate a 0.4
force-displacement capacity diagram of the overall structure.
The capacity curve is generally constructed to represent the
first mode response of the structure based on the assumption 0
0 2 4 6 8 10 12
that the fundamental mode of vibration is predominant (a) 0/0y
response of the structure. This is generally valid for buildings
with fundamental periods of vibration up to about one second,

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 50 2009


1.5 1000

Base Shear(KN)


-10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 400

-1.5 0
0 5 10 15 20 25
(b) Strain
(d) Displacem ent(cm )
Fig. 4 Load- deformation relations for (a) a knee element,
BOX180x180x10, (b) a diagonal element, 2UNP100 Fig. 5 Sample frames capacity curves, (a) 5-story, (b) 10-story,
(c) 15-story, (d) 20-story
Fig. 5 illustrates the pushover nonlinear results for KBF
system in the form of force-displacement curve of sample VII. ESTIMATION OF SEISMIC PARAMETERS
frames. In order to investigate the seismic performance of sample
frames the seismic parameters such as: ductility, factor of
behavior and formation of plastic hinge can be estimated by
700 using the force-displacement curves and pushover analysis.
A. Ductility Effect in reducing strength factor, Rµ
Base Shear(KN)

Different relations are proposed to determine this factor, in
each relation have been attempted to use most of the seismic
effective components, the most comprehensive relation is
200 proposed by Miranda, whereas his proposed equation includes
100 some more effective components such as period of structure,
soil properties and earthquake acceleration. Based on
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Miranda’s [10] assumption Rµ is calculated as in (2)
(a) Displacement(cm)

µ −1
Rµ = +1
1 1 ⎡ 3 ⎤
φ = 1+ exp ⎢− 3 / 2(ln T − ) 2 ⎥ For rock earth
Base Shear(KN)

800 −
10T − µT 2T ⎣ 5 ⎦
1 2 ⎡ 1 ⎤
φ = 1+ − exp ⎢− 2(ln T − ) 2 ⎥ For residual soil
400 12T − µT 5T ⎣ 5 ⎦
200 Tg 3Tg ⎡ T 1 2⎤
φ = 1+ − exp ⎢− 3(ln − ) ⎥ For soft soil
0 3T 4T ⎣⎢ Tg 4 ⎦⎥
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
(b) Displacement(cm)
Where µ is ductility, T is period of structure, and Tg is
dominant period of earthquake.
700 B. Over strength factor, Ω
Base Shear(KN)

In addition to laboratorial method the analytical method

such nonlinear static analysis can be used to calculate the Ω
factor related to overall yielding of structure as the collapse
200 mechanism V y , to the force in which the first plastic hinge is
formed in structure Vs ; therefore the Ω factor can be found
0 5 10 15 20 25 Refer to (3).
(c) Displacement(cm) Vy
Ω0 = (3)

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 50 2009

V y is the base shear related to point of the reduction


stiffness in equivalent bilinear force-displacement of structure.


Ω 0 is the nominal over strength factor which is adjusted by 8

Ru value
multiplying some coefficient to consider the effect of yielding 6
stress increase by the reason of strain rate increase in an
earthquake, F1 , the difference between nominal and actual

yielding stress of material, F2 , … so the actual over strength 2

factor can be obtained as follows: 0

Ω = Ω 0 × F1 × F2 × ...
0 5 10 15 20 25

Number of story

C. Factor of behavior, R Fig. 6 Investigation of varying Ru for KBF

The factor of behavior is calculated in two states according to
the method which is used by every code to design structure.
Ru is the factor of behavior based on ultimate limit stresses VIII. THE COMPARISON OF NONLINEAR PERFORMANCE OF
and RW is the factor of behavior based on allowable limit SAMPLE FRAMES
stresses, that the relation between RW and Ru is defined by a Fig. 7 illustrates the plastic hinge formation in one of the
nonlinear analysis step for 5 and 15-story frames of KBF. By
dimensionless parameter Y = RW Ru , which is evaluated
evaluating the results of the KBF system, it can be found that,
around 1.4 to 1.7 (the UBC-97 code has proposed 1.4 for this as the lateral force increases the first plastic hinge forms in a
parameter) the seismic parameters for sample frames are knee element, so that most of the plastic hinge is concentrated
calculated in Table 1. in the knee elements, which is a secondary member of the
KBF system. Therefore most of the structural damages caused
TABLE I by an earthquake will be occurred on the knee element and
SEISMIC PARAMETERS OF KNEE BRACING SAMPLE FRAMES after earthquake the damaged members can be replaced more
Number easily and at reasonable cost.
of stories
5-Story 10- Story 15- Story 20-Story
T(sec) 0.7 1.4 2.3 3.2
V y (KN) 576.2 1013.1 828.4 957.0

Vs (KN) 215.0 482.4 380.0 435.0

Ω0 2.68 2.10 2.18 2.20
Ω 3.10 2.43 2.50 2.50
µ 3.40 2.46 2.70 2.10
φ 1.03 0.81 1.02 1.03
Rµ 3.33 2.80 2.67 2.07
Ru 10.32 6.79 6.67 5.20
Rw 14.45 9.50 9.34 7.28

From the above tables it can be found that for 5-story frame
the Ω factor obtained about 3 and that of 10 to 20-story
frames is about 2 to 2.5. The above values are compatible as
mentioned in reference [10], which is evaluated 3 for short
structures and 2 for tall structures. The displacement limitation
code limits the maximum displacement of structure, for this
reason the Rµ factor for 10 to 20-story frames is smaller than
that of 5-story frame.
Also the value of Ru versus the height of structure is plotted
in Fig. 6. As it can be found from this figure, the obtained
values of Ru for KB system is more than that of systems such
as Eccentric or Centric Braced Frames, so more ductility is
achieved as it is desired in this paper.

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 50 2009

Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Lisbon, Portugal, September

[6] Nassar A.A. and Osteraos J.D and Krawinkler H. “seismic design based
on strength and ductility demand”, Proceeding of the Earthquake
Engineering 10th worth Conference, p.5861-5866, 1992.
[7] Thambirajah Balendra, Ming-Tuck Sam, Chih-Young Liaw and Seng-
Lip Lee, “Preliminary studies into the behavior of knee braced frames
subject to seismic loading”, Eng. Struct. 1991, Vol. 13, January.
[8] Thambirajah Balendra, Ming-Tuck Sam, Chih-Young Liaw, “ Diagonal
brace with ductile knee anchor for a seismic steel frame”, Earthquake
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[9] Thambirajah Balendra, Ming-Tuck Sam, Chih-Young Liaw,
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[10] Miranda,E. and Bertero, V.V., “Evaluation of Strength Reduction
Factors for Earthquake-Resistant Design”, Earthquake Spectra, 1994,
Vol.10, No.2, pp.357-379.

Fig. 7 Plastic hinge formation in one of nonlinear analysis
steps, for (a) 5-story and (b) 10-story frames

1) In the KBF system the diagonal brace provides most of
the elastic lateral stiffness where the beams and columns
are hinge-connected. The knee elements prevent collapse
of the structure under extreme seismic excitations by
dissipating energy through flexural yielding. Since the
cost of repairing the structure is limited to replacing the
knee members only.
2) The area under the force-displacement diagram of the
KBF system shows the energy dissipating capacity.
3) According to the values of ductility effect reducing
strength factor and over strength factor calculated in
tables 1 and 2 for KBF system, it is assumed Rµ = 2.51
and Ω = 2.476 so for the ultimate limit stresses.

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earthquakes”, J. Structural Div., ASCE 1978, 104, 391-411.
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seismic design of steel frames”, J. Structure. Engineering, ASCE, 1986,
112, (7), 1544-1552.
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