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**Structural optimization and dynamic analysis for double-layer spherical
**

reticulated shell structures

L.J. Li a,∗ , Z.H. Xie b , Y.C. Guo a , F. Liu a

a Guangdong University of Technology, Guangzhou, 510640, PR China

b Guangzhou Maritime College, Guangzhou, 510725, PR China

Received 19 September 2005; accepted 13 January 2006

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the geometrical optimum design and the aseismic analysis of double-layer reticulated shell structures. The

characteristic of free vibration of reticulated shell structures, with respect to geometric parameter, is investigated. The variations of the

eigenfrequency of shell structures, with respect to the ratio of height-to-span, span, grid division frequency and thickness of shell, are discussed.

The Newmark method is used to calculate the stresses and displacements of the reticulated shell structure under earthquake action. The analysis

results show that under a specified span, the eigenfrequency of the structure increases with the increase of the height-to-span ratio and then

decreases afterwards. Therefore, there exists an optimum height-to-span ratio resulting in an optimum stiffness at the specified span. The optimum

value of the ratio is found to be between 1/3 and 1/4 from the simulation study presented in this paper. At a specified height-to-span ratio, the

increase of the value of structural span greatly reduces the eigenfrequency of the structure and then decreases the global stiffness of the structure.

At the specified span and the specified height-to-span ratio, the eigenfrequency of the structure has a minor increase with the increase of the

thickness and the grid division frequency of the reticulated shell structure. The partial double-layer reticulated shell structures have less stability

compared with double-layer reticulated shell structures, but more stability in comparison with single-layer reticulated shell structures. The 1/6

partial double-layer reticulated shell structure has a best performance-to-price ratio. In other words, it has a higher buckling load, with smaller

material consumption, compared with other partial double-layer reticulated shell structures. It is proposed to adopt the 1/6 partial double-layer

reticulated shell structure in engineering if a double layer reticulated shell structure is required.

c 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Reticulated shell; Optimization; Aseismic analysis; Spacial structure; Dynamic analysis

**1. Introduction that influence its responses to earthquake motion. Damage
**

of an earthquake to structures depends not only on the

Large span special reticulated shell structures are being magnitude and duration of the earthquake, but also on the

increasingly built, as stadiums, gymnasiums and exhibition dynamic characteristic of structures [13]. Field inspection and

halls across the world. The design for these structures analyses of the performance of structures during earthquake

is emphasized more on architectural aesthetics than on shaking of their foundations [14,15] have clearly shown

structural reliability and economical efficiency [1–4]. Research that building designs, which simply follow seismic code

work for large span special reticulated shell structures was regulations, do not guarantee safety against collapse or serious

mainly focused on stability analysis [5–7], buckling and path damage. In order to obtain an effective seismic resistant

tracking [8–10] and elastoplastic large deformation simulation. design, it is necessary to follow two main guidelines; one

Only a few researchers investigated structural optimization, and is that soil–foundation–superstructure should have an integral

they concentrated on minimum weight optimization [11,12].

action, so that the structure has a large integral stiffness, and

Stiffness and configuration of a structure are important aspects

the other is that a proper system configuration should be

selected for superstructures [16] so that the structure has an

∗ Corresponding author. excellent comprehensive performance. An earthquake-resistant

E-mail address: lilj@scnu.edu.cn (L.J. Li). structure is required to be light, avoiding unnecessary masses.

**0143-974X/$ - see front matter
**

c 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.jcsr.2006.01.010

944 L.J. Li et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 62 (2006) 943–949

**A building, with its superstructure, ought to be simple,
**

symmetric, and regular in plan and elevation to prevent

significant torsional forces, avoiding a large height–width ratio

and large plan areas. It also requires a uniform and continuous

distribution of mass, stiffness, strength and ductility, avoiding

the formation of soft stories. The superstructure should be

provided with balanced stiffness and strength between its

members, connections and supports. A spacial reticulated shell

Fig. 1. Double-layer spherical reticulated shell in rib ring type square

structure has the properties of light, symmetric, regular and reciprocal prism.

simple, in order to obtain effective earthquake resistant design

impacts. A proper system configuration must be selected

for spacial reticulated shell structures. In this paper, the with the increase of height-to-span ratio when this ratio is large

stiffness, system and configuration optimization is obtained (1/3–1/2). Since the stiffness of a structure increases as its

by simulation analysis for reticulated shell structures. The frequency increases, therefore there is a maximum frequency

response of a reticulated shell structure to earthquakes is and consequently a maximum stiffness exists in the range of

investigated by calculating the optimized shell structure. these ratios. In other words, there is an optimum height-to-span

ratio for a structure at a given span, and the calculation results

2. Free vibration study of shell structures with different show that the optimum ratio is between 1/3 and 1/4.

parameters Fig. 2(b) demonstrates that eigenfrequency decreases greatly

with the increase of span at the specified height-to-span

Free vibration frequency is one of the most important ratio, when span increases from 50 to 200 m, eigenfrequency

dynamic properties of reticulated shell structures, and it decreases almost linearly with the increase of span. In this

influences the dynamic response of structures under earthquake case, the stiffness of structure decreases significantly with the

actions. The stiffness of a structure is one of the main factors increase of span at the specified height-to-span ratio.

that affect the vibration characteristic of a structure [17]. The Fig. 2(c) shows the influences of grid thickness on the

study of free vibration frequency of reticulated shell structures eigenfrequency of a shell with spans of 50 m, 100 m and 150 m

can be used as an effective method to inspect whether the respectively at a specified height-to-span ratio of 1/4. It can be

stiffness of different parts of reticulated shell structures is seen from Fig. 2(c) that eigenfrequency almost does not change

evenly distributed. while the grid thickness changes from 0.8 to 2 m, which shows

Basic assumptions are made as follows when the the grid thickness has little influence on grid stiffness.

free vibration study is carried out by the finite element Fig. 2(d) illustrates the variations of eigenfrequency versus

method [18] for double-layer aluminum spherical reticulated grid division frequency for the reticulated shells with different

shell structures. spans respectively, i.e. 50 m, 100 m and 150 m at the specified

height-to-span ratio of 1/4. It can be seen that grid division

(1) Joints are assumed to be hinged; frequency has only a slight influence on eigenfrequency for the

(2) Masses are concentrated only on joints; specified reticulated shell. That is to say, at a specified span

(3) Bars have only axial stresses; and a height-to-span ratio, the grid division frequency does

(4) Viscosity is not considered. not influence the eigenfrequency greatly, which shows that the

The bars of spherical reticulated shell structures taken for grid dimension has only a small influence on the stiffness of a

analysis examination are perfect elastic–plastic materials with structure that has a specified shell.

a cross section of Φ140 × 6, and were designed according From the above analysis, it can be concluded that, for

to Chinese criteria of steel structure design [19]. A subspace double-layer reticulated shells, under the satisfactory use of

iterative method is used to analyze the modes of double-layer span, grid division frequency and grid thickness do not affect

reticulated shells shown in Fig. 1 which have 4 different spans the aseismic property of structures greatly. It is important to

(L = 50 m, 100 m, 150 m, 200 m), 13 different height-to- select an appropriate height-to-span ratio for a structure to

span ratios ( f /L = 1/2, 1/2.5, 1/3, 1/3.5, 1/4, 1/4.5, 1/5, obtain effective aseismic performance.

1/5.5, 1/6, 1/6.5, 1/7, 1/7.5, 1/8) and 6 different grid division

frequencies (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) as stated in Ref. [20]. In view 3. Variation of dynamic property of reticulated shell with

of spherical reticulated shells having many vibration modes in grid parameters

closer frequencies, the first 20 free vibration frequencies and

modes have been calculated so that their eigenvalues cannot There are two methods that can be used for structural

be missed. Fig. 2(a), (b), (c) and (d) illustrate the variations seismic response analysis. One is the imitative static method,

of frequency versus height-to-span ratio, span, grid division i.e., vibration mode decomposition method, and the other is

frequency and shell thickness, respectively. the direct dynamic method, i.e., time ordered method. When

It can be seen from Fig. 2(a) that, at different spans, the the vibration mode decomposition method is used to solve

frequency increases with the increase of height-to-span ratio the seismic response of structures, free vibration analysis

when this ratio is small (1/8–1/4), then frequency decreases is carried out at first for these structures. Because there

L.J. Li et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 62 (2006) 943–949 945

(a) Variations of eigenfrequency versus height-to-span ratio. (b) Variations of eigenfrequency versus span.

(c) Eigenfrequency versus grid thickness. (d) Eigenfrequency versus grid division frequency.

Fig. 2. Variations of eigenfrequency versus different parameters.

are many similar frequencies for reticulated shell structures, as 0.02, earthquake intensity was given as degree 8, the

it is difficult to estimate exactly the truncation frequency. ground condition was considered as the third kind, El Centro

Meanwhile there are many frequencies which require accurate earthquake motion was considered and the lasting time of the

calculation analysis. Indeed, the time ordered method is earthquake was assumed as 4 s. The peak point and bottom rib

usually used to study aseismic properties of large structures if member of reticulated shell structure were analyzed.

possible. This direct dynamic analysis method can be adopted

to calculate seismic response of a structure to earthquake 3.1. Influences of spans on dynamic responses

motion and obtain the displacement, velocity and acceleration

of the node of the structure with a step-by-step integration. Fig. 3 shows the maximum displacements at peak point

When a really strong earthquake impacts on structures, it and maximum axial stress at the bottom bar versus span

is necessary to undertake elastoplastic analysis for these (50 m, 100 m, 150 m, 200 m) at the specified height-to-span

structures using the time ordered analysis method which ratio (1/4) and grid division frequency (10). From Fig. 3(a)

includes the Direct Integral Method, Finite Difference Method, it can be seen that, at this specified height-to-span ratio, the

Linear Acceleration Method, Houbolt Method, Wilson-θ maximum displacement in the horizontal direction is slightly

Method and Newmark Method. The first two methods are larger than that in the vertical direction. The displacement of the

conditional stable, if the time step meets the demand of t ≤ structure under an earthquake action increases obviously with

Tn /π. The last three methods are unconditional stable. the increase of the span. The displacement increases almost

The Newmark method was used to carry out dynamic linearly with respect to the increase of the span from 50 to

analysis for reticulated shell structures. Rib and ring type 200 m, which shows that the stiffness of the structure changes

aluminum reticulated shell structures were calculated as greatly within this range. Fig. 3(b) shows that the axial stress

examples. In the calculation, structural damping was chosen increases greatly with the increase of span.

946 L.J. Li et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 62 (2006) 943–949

(a) Displacement at peak point versus span. (b) Stress of bar versus span.

Fig. 3. Variations of displacement and stress versus span.

(a) Node displacement versus height-to-span ratio. (b) Axial stress versus height-to-span ratio.

Fig. 4. Structural responses versus height-to-span ratio.

(a) Displacement versus grid division frequency. (b) Axial stress versus grid division frequency.

Fig. 5. Structural responses versus grid division frequency.

3.2. Influences of height-to-span ratios on structural dynamic structure is smaller within this height-to-span ratio range than

responses in the other ratio ranges. It can be concluded that there is an op-

timum value of height-to-span ratio for a specified double-layer

Fig. 4 illustrates the maximal displacement of the node and reticulated shell structure as for an effective aseismic system.

maximal stress of the bar with respect to height-to-span ratio at

the specified grid division frequency of 7 and span of 50 m. It 3.3. Effects of grid division frequencies on structural dynamic

can be seen that vertical displacement controls stabilization of responses

the structure dynamic response to earthquake when the height-

to-span ratio is small i.e. between 1/8 and 1/4, while horizon- The peak displacements and bottom rib bar stress, with

tal displacement will control the structural response when the respect to grid division frequency at the specified span of 100 m

height-to-span ratio is large i.e. between 1/3 and 1/2. The ver- and the height-to-span ratio of 1/7 under both vertical and

tical and horizontal displacements have a same degree at the horizontal earthquake motions, are shown in Fig. 5. It can be

height-to-span ratio range of 1/4–1/3. It can be seen that struc- seen that the vertical displacement is significantly larger than

tural dynamic response changes gently within the height-to- the horizontal one when the structure has a smaller height-to-

span ratio range of 1/4 and 1/3, which implies that the structure span ratio. The displacement at the peak point and the stress

has larger stiffness and consequently the displacement of the at the bottom bar decreases gently with the increase of the

L.J. Li et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 62 (2006) 943–949 947

(a) Displacement versus bar section. (b) Bar axial stress versus bar section.

Fig. 6. Structural responses with respect to bar section.

(a) Double-layer reticulated shell. (b) 5/6 partial double-layer (c) 4/6 partial double-layer reticulated (d) 2/6 partial double-layer grid shell.

reticulated shell. shell.

(e) 1/6 partial double-layer grid shell. (f) Single-layer grid shell.

Fig. 7. Different partial double-layer reticulated shell structures.

grid division frequency, which shows that, at the specified span a small height-to-span ratio and the bar axial stress (which

and height-to-span ratio, the increase of grid division frequency decrease 5.6%) are used in the design. However the influence of

induces the increase of the stiffness of the structure, but the the bar section on structural responses under earthquake action

increase extension is limited. is very small.

**3.4. Effects of bar sections on structural dynamic responses 4. Stability analysis of reticulated shells with different
**

geometric configurations

The reticulated shell being of 150 m span, 1/8 height-

to-span ratio and 10-grid division frequency was analyzed It is the stability of the structure [21–24] that controls the

for comparison. Fig. 6 shows the variations of the peak design of reticulated shell structures. Double-layer reticulated

displacement and the bottom bar stress with respect to bar shell structures, compared with single-layer reticulated shell

diameter under the earthquake action. The bar section does structures, have better stability performance and larger span

not influence the horizontal displacement as greatly as that but more material consumption. In order to investigate the

for the vertical displacement (which decreases 16.8%). It can influences of the layer on the structural performance, a

therefore be concluded that the increase of the bar diameter can structure that has a 100 m span and 1/7 height-to-span ratio

reduce the vertical displacement. At this time, it is the vertical and changes gradually from a double-layer one to a single-

displacement that controls the structural response, because layer one shown in Fig. 7 is analyzed. Fig. 8 shows the

948 L.J. Li et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 62 (2006) 943–949

Table 1

Comparison between the buckling loads and the material consumption among single-layer, partial double-layer and double-layer reticulated shell structures

**Reticulated shell Single- 1/6 partial 2/6 partial 4/6 partial 5/6 partial Double-layer
**

structures layer double-layer double-layer double-layer double-layer

Material consumption W 1.30W 1.53W 1.90W 2.38W 2.62W

Buckling loads P 4.67P 5.33P 5.60P 7.47P 8.00P

Performance/price ratios 1 3.60 3.49 2.95 3.13 3.05

**responses of structures. Reticulated shell structures have
**

high stiffness at the height-to-span range of 1/3–1/4,

and consequently have good aseismic performance when

seismic condition only is considered. For different loading

conditions, the optimal height-to-span ratio of reticulated

shell structures may be different from the above.

(2) The vertical earthquake actions control the structural

responses when the height-to-span ratio of the structure

is smaller than 1/4, while for structures whose height-

Fig. 8. Buckling loads with respect to structural configurations. to-span ratios are larger than 1/3, it is the horizontal

variation of buckling loads of these structures with structural earthquake actions that control the structural responses. At

configurations. a specified height-to-span ratio, the earthquake response of

Fig. 8 shows that the buckling load decreases by 87.5% the structure increases with the increase of the span. At

when the double-layer reticulated shell changes to the single- specified span and height-to-span ratio, the increase of grid

layer reticulated shell, and the buckling load decreases by division frequency induces the increase of the stiffness of

6.6% when the double-layer reticulated shell changes to the the structure as had been expected, while the bar section

5/6 partial double-layer reticulated shell. The buckling loads has only a small influence on structural dynamic responses.

continue to decrease with the decrease of double-layer area (3) The partial double-layer reticulated shell structures have

and decrease by 41% when the double-layer reticulated shell less stability compared with the double-layer reticulated

changes to the 1/6 partial double-layer reticulated shell. The shell structures but more stability compared with the single-

buckling loads decrease by 46.5% when the partial 1/6 double- layer reticulated shell structures. The 1/6 partial double-

layer reticulated shell changes to the single-layer reticulated layer reticulated shell structure has a good performance-to-

shell. The calculation results show that partial double-layer price ratio. The 1/6 partial double-layer reticulated shell

reticulated shell structures have less stability compared with structure has higher buckling load and smaller material

double-layer reticulated shell structures but greater stability consumption compared with other partial double-layer

compared with single-layer reticulated shell structures. Fig. 8 reticulated shell structures. It is therefore recommended

also shows that partial double-layer reticulated shell structures to introduce the 1/6 partial double-layer reticulated shell

can greatly increase the stability of single-layer reticulated shell structure in engineering if the use of a double-layer

structures and of these the 1/6 partial double-layer reticulated structure is inevitable.

shell structures have the best performance-to-price ratio. (4) The dynamic investigation carried out in this paper is under

Table 1 lists the comparison between the material con- only El Centro motion, which limited the validity of the

sumption and buckling loads when reticulated shell structures outcomes obtained. More earthquake motion cases should

change from a single-layer one to a double-layer one. It can be considered if more practical results are desired.

be seen from Table 1 that the 1/6 partial double-layer reticu-

Acknowledgements

lated shell structure has a good performance-to-price ratio. In

other words, the 1/6 partial double-layer reticulated shell struc-

We would like to thank Guangdong Natural Science

ture has higher buckling load and smaller material consump-

Foundation and Guangzhou Bureau of Science and Technology,

tion compared with other partial double-layer reticulated shell

Peoples’ Republic of China, for partially supporting this project

structures. It is proposed to introduce the partial double-layer

(Project number 032489, 2003Z3-D0221).

reticulated shell structure for designs.

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