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Yogendra Singh
Professor, Department of Earthquake Engineering, IIT Roorkee

As brought out in the previous Chapters, the structures are to be designed to have
sufficient strength and ductility for safety against earthquake forces. Both strength
and ductility are important for seismic safety. The current codal practice of design of
RC buildings is based on a linear analysis and Limit State Design philosophy. The
effect of ductility is considered in the form of a response Reduction Factor, which
is used to reduce the earthquake forces for design.
The RC members are to be designed for three actions: (i) Axial Force, (ii) Shear
Force, and (iii) Bending Moment. Beams are generally monolithic with slabs and
these are not designed for axial load. On the other hand, the columns are to be
designed for an interaction of axial load and bending moment. The design for Shear
is independent.
Concrete is known to be brittle material. Typical to brittle materials, it has much
lower strength in tension, than in compression. The behaviour of concrete can be
greatly enhanced by confining it. The ductility of concrete can be significantly
improved by proper detailing of the reinforcement. This Chapter deals with
important aspects of the design and detailing of RC buildings.
If we test 100 cubes of same batch of concrete, they will not give the same strength.
Similarly if we test 100 rods of steel of same grade or test 100 beams made of same
concrete and same steel, they will fail at different loads. This is due to inherent
variability of strength of materials. To take this into account we consider a lower
than average strength of materials in design. Our code defines this as Characteristic
Strength. It is the estimate of strength below which not more than 5% samples will
fall. Further a partial factor of safety (1.15 for steel and 1.5 for concrete) is used to
estimate the design strength. Therefore, it is clear that the actual strength of a
member is higher than the force for which we have designed as per our current
design practice. This higher strength is termed as over-strength and it is kept as
reserve strength in case of gravity and wind load. In case of earthquake load, this
strength is also utilized to resist the earthquake forces. In fact, the forces resulting

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from the earthquake are much larger than the actual strength of the members and
the members yield under such forces. Our normal linear analysis procedure can not
predict the behaviour of structures for yielding members and we require non-linear
analysis procedures. However, there are some simplified procedures, which can be
used to approximately predict the non-linear behaviour from the linear behaviour.
The response reduction factor given in our code is one such procedure which takes
into account the over-strength and ductility.
2.1 Shear Strength of Beams and Columns
The seismic performance of reinforced concrete frame buildings in past earthquakes
demonstrates that loss of axial load carrying capacity due to shear failure in
columns, is one of the most common causes of the building damage and failure. In a
well designed column subjected to seismic actions, the contribution of shear
deformation to the total deformation of column may be even less than 10% (Lehman
and Moehle 2000), however, shear deformation becomes as significant as 40% of the
total deformation (Sezen 2002) when the columns are designed only for gravity
loads without considering seismic detailing requirements. The shear failure in
columns is a brittle mode of failure (Fig. 1), which is considered as a force
controlled mode. It implies that the member cannot undergo any plastic
deformation (points B and C coincide in Fig. 1) and for satisfactory performance of
the structure, the shear force should be controlled within the expected capacity of
the member. Therefore, estimation of shear capacity of columns is an important
issue in simulation of seismic behaviour of RC frames.

Fig. 1 Generalized force-deformation behavior of a typical RC member to define performance

limit states under shear.

Extensive research on this front over the past decades has revealed that the shear
strength (Vn) of a column can be considered to have distinct contributions from
concrete (Vc) and transverse reinforcement (Vs). Contribution of concrete in shear
strength is rather complex and is influenced by several factors including axial
compressive force, column aspect ratio and deformation ductility demand (Priestley
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et al. 1994; Sezen and Moehle 2004; Erduran and Yakut 2007). A number of models
are available for evaluation of shear strength of RC columns. Table 1 summarizes a
few of the available models, which are simple to use and are applicable for the
common range of building parameters.
Table 1
Overview of shear strength models of RC columns considered in the present study


ACI 352R-02


6 f c'
Vc k


0.74 P
0 .8 Ag
f c' Ag

2<M/Vd <3
k = 1.0 for low ductility region and
0.7 for high ductility region

0.5 f c'

Vc k
0.8 Ag
0.5 f c Ag

ACI 318

Sezen and
Moehle (2004)

P '
Vc 0.171
f A ;
if P 0
14Ag c g

0.29P '
f c Ag 0; if P 0
Vc 0.171


0.07 10w f c' Ag
Vc 1
A f'
g c



Av f yvd

Vs k

Av f yvd

Av f yvd


0.66 f c' Ag

Av f yvd

0.08 f c' 0.07 10 w f c' 0.2 f c'

where, M/V is the largest ratio of moment to shear under design loadings for the column, P is axial
load on column, Ss is shear span, d is depth of column, w is area of flexural tension
reinforcement, and Av, S, and fyv are area, spacing, and yield strength, respectively, of the transverse

2.2 Beam-Column Joints

Beamcolumn joints, particularly in frames not designed for earthquake actions,
have been damaged in past earthquakes. Behavior of beam-column joints in frames
subjected to lateral loading is a complex phenomenon, as a number of parameters
affect the strength of the joints. Further, there is significant difference in the
mechanism of shear resistance in case of exterior and interior beam-column joints.
Shear strength of beam-column joints is mainly influenced by compressive strength
of concrete, joint aspect ratio, amount of longitudinal reinforcement in beams
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connected to the joint, and axial force in column. Numerous studies have been
carried out in the last decade to evaluate shear strength of the RC beam-column
joints and several models of exterior and interior joints have been proposed. Table 2
provides the overview of the shear strength models of RC beam-column joints.
Considering uncertainties regarding role of transverse reinforcement in failure
mechanism of joints, the joint shear strength models prescribed in some of the
codes/documents, viz., FEMA-356 (2000); (ACI-352R-02 2002); Eurocode-8 (2004),
assume that the internal forces in the joint are to be transferred by diagonal
compression strut of concrete core alone. The model proposed by Hegger et al.
(2003) considers the maximum number of parameters influencing the shear strength
of joints, including the role of transverse reinforcement, and is applicable for all
types of joints.
Table 2
Overview of shear strength models of RC beam-column joints
Model reference

Interior Joint

Exterior Joint

FEMA-356 (2000)

Vn j f c' b j hc

Park and Mosalam


Vn j 0.083 f c' b j hc

Hegger et al.

Vn j 0.25 f c' b j hc

V nj 1 2 3 0 . 25 f c' b j h c

Eurocode-8 (2004)

Ag f c'

Vnj 0.4 f c' 1 c 1
b j hc

f c'


80% of interior strength

where, is nominal strength coefficient based on joint geometry and amount of transverse
reinforcement; 1, 2, 3, are coefficients to account for anchorage efficiency in beam reinforcement,
axial force in column, and slenderness of joint, respectively; bj is effective width and hc is depth of

Unlike, the joint strength models of Eurocode-8 (2004), ACI-352R-02 (2002) and
FEMA-356 (2000), the model in NZS-3101:Part1 (2006) requires considerable amount
of transverse reinforcement in the joint to transfer the tensile forces and therefore not
applicable to the non-ductile gravity designed buildings, where no transverse
reinforcement is provided in the joint region. Indian Standard (BIS 1993) provides
some detailing guidelines for beam-column joints, but does not provide any model
for estimation of joint shear strength.

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Fig. 2 Shear resistance mechanism of beam-column joint in: (a) bare and (b) infilled frame

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Figure 2 shows the shear resistance mechanism of a beam-column joint in bare

and infilled RC frames. Assuming that the tension (T) in beam reinforcement is
equal to the compressive force (C) in beam, the joint shear force (Vjh) of bare and
infilled frame can be represented as in Eqs. (1) and (2), respectively.

V jh C T Vc


V jh C T Vc R cos


where, Vc is the shear force in column, and R cos is the shear force exerted by the
infill. It is evident from the figure that strut action of infill results in increased
shear in column, which in-turn results in reduced shear force in the joint.


As mentioned earlier, the Response Reduction Factor, used in the design of
structures depends on ductility of the structure. The ductility of structures, in tern,
depends on the ductility of individual components and structural configuration,
including relative strength of different components and redundancy. These two
aspects of ductile design are described below.
3.1 Ductile Design of Individual Components
The ductility of structure depends on the ductility of individual components. In RC
members, the ductility of components can be enhanced in flexure but there are
limitations on ductility in axial action and shear action. In flexure, the ductility can
be achieved by making under-reinforced sections and by providing proper
confinement at the locations where maximum moments are expected and the
component is expected to yield. The member ends near the joints are the most
probable locations of yielding under earthquakes. Further, it should be ensured that
the member should yield in flexure and not in shear or axial action. This can be
ensured by providing higher strength in shear and axial action, than that required
for yielding of the member in flexure.
3.2 Ductile Design of Structural System
A structure can yield in a variety of modes depending on the relative strength of
various components and joints and structural configuration. As some of the
members have to yield under earthquake, redundancy of structural system is very
important. The structure with higher degree of redundancy can afford to have larger

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number of plastic hinges before collapse and therefore it will exhibit higher ductility.
On the other hand a determinate structure will become unstable on the formation of
first plastic hinge, without showing much ductility.
The local failure mechanism resulting due to formation of plastic hinges in columns
prior to those in beams causes brittle failure of structure and should be avoided.
This can be avoided by designing the columns to be stronger than the beams. Failure
of joints is another cause of poor seismic performance of structures. If the joints fail
in shear which is a brittle mode of failure and if joints fail prior to yielding of
components, the ductility can not be achieved. This requires proper detailing of the
reinforcement in joints.
3.3 Capacity Design Concept
The capacity design is the art of avoiding failure of structure in brittle mode. This
can be achieved by designing the brittle modes of failure to have higher strength
than ductile modes. In a RC building this can be achieved by following the following
design sequence:

First design the beams in flexure for the moments obtained from the
analysis for Gravity, Wind and earthquake Loads.


Calculate the provided flexural strength of beams and the corresponding

shear strength requirement.

(iii) Design the beams for higher of the shear obtained above in (ii) and that
obtained from analysis.
(iv) Calculate the flexural strength requirement of the columns by considering
the strength of beams joining the columns. The combined flexural strength
of columns joining at a node must be higher than the combined flexural
strength of beams joining at the node.

Design the columns for the higher of the moment obtained in (iv) above and
that obtained from analysis.

(vi) Design the columns for the shear force higher of that obtained from the
flexural capacity and obtained from analysis.
Concrete is known to be brittle material, i.e. it fails suddenly when subjected to load.
But concrete can be made ductile when confined by reinforcement. Fig. 3 shows the
behaviour of unconfined and confined concrete. It can be seen that confinement not
only increases the strength of concrete, but it tremendously increases the ductility of
concrete. The confinement of concrete is obtained by providing stirrups, as shown in
Figs. 4-5. Here, it is very important, that stirrups should be hooked at 1350 into the
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core concrete, otherwise these stirrups open up under force due to earthquake and
the confining action is not available (Fig. 6).

Fig. 3 Behaviour of Confined and Unconfined Concrete

Fig. 4 Confining concrete by hoops / stirrups

Fig. 5 Effect of spacing of hoops / stirrups

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Fig. 6 Role of anchorage of hoops / stirrups

Fig. 7 Variation in ductility of steel with strength

An important issue in detailing of RC structures is the grade of steel used for

reinforcement. As seen from Fig. 7, the ductility of steel decreases with increase in
strength. Therefore, it is important that the minimum ductility of steel is ensured.
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According to IS 13920, the steel having total elongation more than 14.5% only can be
used for reinforcement in RC structures in Seismic Areas.

Fig. 8 Capacity Design concept explained through an analogy with a chain

Fig. 9 Capacity shear in beams

The most important issue in ductile design of RC structures is avoiding the failure in
brittle modes. This is ensured through capacity design. Fig. 8, shows a chain, which
has one ductile link, while all other links are brittle. This chain is subjected to load P

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at the ends, as shows in the Fig. Now, the question is, whether the failure of chain
will be brittle or ductile? This can be answered, if we know whether the ductile link
is going to fail first or a brittle link. If the capacity of all brittle links is higher than
the ductile link, the failure of the chain will be ductile, otherwise it will be brittle.
This concept is used in making a structure to behave in a ductile manner by
designing all the brittle modes to have higher strength than the ductile modes. In
case of RC members, shear is known to be a brittle mode of failure. It can be avoided
by designing the beams for the higher of the two: (i) factored applied shear, as
obtained from analysis, and (ii) capacity shear as obtained using the procedure
shown in Fig. 9.

Fig. 10 Strong column and weak beam design concept

In a RC frame building, two common modes of failure are possible (Fig. 10). In the
first mode of failure columns of one storey yield and building fails in a local
mechanism. On the other hand, in the second mode of failure, all the beams yield
first than the columns. This type of failure mechanism is called global mechanism. It
is obvious that the second mode of failure provides much larger ductility than the
first mode. This can be achieved by designing the beams of the building weaker than
the columns. Weak beam and strong column design is the most important concept
of building design.

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As discussed in the previous section, ductile buildings can be designed even with
concrete, which a non-ductile material. This can be achieved by providing proper
amount of steel reinforcement at proper location. The following sections describe the
reinforcement detailing for ductility
4.1 Anchorage and Splicing of Reinforcement
Joints are subjected to very large earthquake forces and it has been observed that the
beam reinforcement pulls out of columns and the building collapses. To avoid this,
the code IS: 13920 recommends that the beam reinforcement should be anchored
into columns by a length ld + 10 (Fig. 11). The increase of 10 to the development
length is to take into account the loss of
bond due to cracking of concrete during
Similarly, care should be taken in
splicing the reinforcement. The splicing
should not be done near the beam
column joints as these locations are
subjected to high bending moments and
concrete may crack and bond may be lost
at these locations. Further, the code
require that not more than 50% of
Fig. 11 Anchorage of beam reinforcement

reinforcement should be spliced at one


5.2. Special confining reinforcement

As discussed above, it is the confinement of concrete, which makes it ductile. Code
requires special confining reinforcement at the location where moment hinges are
likely to occur. The diameter and spacing of these hoops special confining
reinforcement is to be calculated according to codal requirements, but in no case this
spacing of stirrups should be more than 100 mm for columns and it should not be
more than 150 mm for beams. Figs. 12 -13 summarize the requirements of special
confining reinforcements of and columns.
5.3 Reinforcement in Shear Walls
Shear walls are similar to a wide column and these have reinforcement grid,
generally on both faces. These walls resist large shear forces and bending moments
and the reinforcement should be provided to resist both shear and bending moment.
The code requires that if the stress in the shear wall exceeds 0.2 fck then these should
be provided with boundary elements. These boundary elements are similar to
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columns but monolithic with shear walls (Fig 14). The width these boundary
elements may be same as the thickness of the shear wall or it may be more.

Fig. 12 Arrangement of stirrups

Fig. 14 Boundary Elements

Fig. 13 Special confining reinforcement

Fig. 15 Reinforcement at openings

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Special care is required at openings in the shear walls. Concentration of stresses

takes place near opening. To take care of this, additional reinforcement (Fig. 15)
should be provided around the openings. In case of coupled shear walls, the
coupling beams are subjected to very high
shear forces. Due to reversal of stresses under
earthquake conditions, the concrete in coupling
beams gets crushed. To take care of the shear
force, diagonal reinforcement should be
provided (Fig. 16) in the coupling beams. This
diagonal reinforcement should be anchored by
1.5 times the full development length, into the
shear wall concrete.
Fig. 16 Reinforcement in coupling beam

5.4 Detailing requirements in special conditions

There are two commonly found conditions in RC buildings, which need special
attention in detailing. First, whenever, there is an abrupt change in stiffness of
members, special confining reinforcement should be provided. Two such cases are
encountered when the shear wall is supported on columns (Fig. 17) or columns are
supported on shear wall (Fig. 18). The first case is not desirable from earthquake
safety point of view and must be avoided. In both the conditions, the columns
should be provided with special confining reinforcement throughout the length.

Fig. 17 Shear wall on columns

Fig. 18 Columns on shear walls

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The second case is whenever, there is a possibility of short-column effect, due to

partial infill or a mezzanine floor (Fig. 19), the columns should be provided with
special confining reinforcement throughout the length.

Fig. 19 Short-column effect


For satisfactory performance of buildings, during earthquake, construction
supervision is also equally important. Several failures have been observed due to
faulty construction.

The most important point during construction is the construction joint. To

avoid failure at the construction joints, shear keys should be provided at
construction joints. Before placing the new concrete, the surface of old
concrete should be thoroughly cleaned by water jets. Wooden blocks should
be used for making shear keys and these blocks should be removed after
initial sitting of concrete. These blocks should never be left in place.

Splicing of reinforcement during construction is very important. As discussed

above, not more than half of the reinforcing bars should be spliced at the
location and splicing should be avoided near the joints.

Anchorage of stirrups in the most important factors on which the safety of

building depends. In no case the stirrups should be anchored at 90o as these
open up during earthquake and confinement is lost

Alignment of columns is also very important as any eccentricity will give rise
to high bending moments in columns.

There is considerable congestion of reinforcement at the joints. Compaction of

concrete at joints is a difficult task and honeycombed concrete at joints is
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quite common. Special care should be taken to compact the concrete at joints,
as joints are the highly stressed parts of a building.
1. ACI 352R-02. 2002. Recommendations for Design of Beam-Column Connections in
Monolithic Reinforced Concrete Structures. Detroit, Michigan, American Concrete
2. ATC 40, 1996, Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Concrete Buildings, Applied
Technology Council, California.
3. Erduran, E., and Yakut, A. 2007. Vulnerability Assessment of Reinforced Concrete
Moment Resisting Frame Buildings. Journal of Structural Engineering; American
Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 133 (4):576-586
4. Eurocode-8. 2004. BS EN 1998-1: Design of Structures for Earthquake ResistancePart 1: General Rules, Seismic Actions and Rules for Buildings. Brussels, Belgium,
European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
5. FEMA-356. 2000. Prestandard and Commentary for the Seismic Rehabilitation of
Buildings. Washington, DC, U. S. A., Federal Emergency Management Agency.
6. Hegger, J., Sherif, A., and Roeser, W. 2003. Nonseismic Design of Beam-Column
Joints. ACI Structural Journal, 100 (5):654-664.
7. IS 13920-1993, Ductile Detailing of Reinforced Concrete Structures Subjected to
Seismic Forces Code of Practice, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi.
8. IS 1893-2002, Criteria for Earthquake Resistant Design of Structures, Part 1 General
Provisions and Buildings, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi.
9. IS 4326-1993, Earthquake Resistant Design and Construction of buildings Code of
practice, Bureau of India Standards, New Delhi.
10. IS 456-2000, Plain and Reinforce Concrete Code of Practice, Bureau of Indian
Standards, New Delhi.
11. Key, David, 1988, Earthquake Design Practice for Buildings, Thomas Telford,
12. Lehman, D. E., and Moehle, J. P. 2000. Seismic Performance of Well confined
Concrete Bridge Columns, PEER Rep. 98/01 University of California at Berkeley,
Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center.
13. NZS-3101:Part1. 2006. Concrete Structures Standard, Part 1, Design of Concrete
Structures. Wellington, New Zealand, Standards Association of New Zealand.
14. Paulay T., and Priestley, M.J.N., 1992, Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete and
Masonry Buildings, John Wiley & sons, Inc., New York.
15. Penelis, George G., and Kappos, Andreas J., 1997, Earthquake Resistant Concrete
Structures, E & FN Spon.

Design and Detailing of RC Buildings / 16

16. Priestley, M. J. N., Verma, R., and Xiao, Y. 1994. Seismic Shear Strength of
Reinforced Concrete Columns. Journal of Structural Engineering; American Society
of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 120 (8):2310-2329.
17. Sezen, H. 2002. Seismic Behavior and Modeling of Reinforced Concrete Building
Columns, University of California, Berkeley.
18. Sezen, H., and Moehle, J. P. 2004. Shear Strength Model for Lightly Reinforced
Concrete Columns. Journal of Structural Engineering; American Society of Civil
Engineers (ASCE), 130 (11):1692-1703.

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