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Architectural Engineering

November 2014, Volume 2, Issue 4, PP.68-72

The Influence of Infill Walls on RC Frames

under Seismic Excitation
Lu Liu #, Ziyan Wu, Hongbin Sun
School of Mechanics and Civil Engineering & Architecture, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xian 710129, China

Infill walls are considered as nonstructural components, but still involved in resisting seismic loads. The paper addresses pertinent
issues on the evaluation of target seismic performance levels of infilled RC frames, establishing a nonlinear finite-element scheme
on the software OpenSees and adopting improved equivalent slant strut modeling infill walls. The deterministic limit states can be
expressed as thresholds of interstory drift ratios (IDR) under specific ground motions. Numerical simulation has been performed
using incremental dynamic analysis (IDA) in order to obtain the representative nodes maximum displacement responses. The
paper shows three performance objectives of infilled RC frames, and the IDRs are compared with bare RC frames and criterions.
From the data analysis, it can be verified that if not taking into account the influence of infill walls, the IDR may be
non-conservative. It can be concluded that the existence of infill walls will significantly improve stiffness of global structure, and
substantially raise seismic performance.
Keywords: Target Performance Levels; Infilled RC Frames; Improved Equivalent Slant Strut; Incremental Dynamic Analysis

In past decade, the investigations of earthquake hazard proved that infill walls would develop strong interaction with
the main frames under seismic excitation. However, infill walls were often considered as nonstructural components
and overlooked in the structural analysis. In order to complete performance-based design on RC frames, some
experiments and numerical simulations were performed: Fardis and Panagiotakos[1] and Kappos et al.[2] evaluated the
influence and configuration of infill walls on RC frames under seismic loads; Dolek and Fajfar[3] studied the effect
of masonry infills on the seismic response of a four-storey reinforced concrete frame based on pushover analysis and
the inelastic spectrum approach; Celarec et al.[4] and Dymiotis et al.[5] analyzed the influence of uncertainty on
seismic capacity of infilled RC frames based on sensitivity and fragility analyses. The literature survey presented
here is to highlight the influence of infill walls and give strong laboratory and field evidence that infill walls
shouldnt be neglected.
This paper establishes a numerical model on the software OpenSees for assessing seismic behavior and target
performance levels of infilled RC frames. IDA method has been performed to obtain target IDRs. The comparison of
thresholds of three performance levels among the infilled RC frame, bare RC frame and criterions proves that infill
walls play an important role in buildings.


A performance objective is defined as a given level of performance under ground motion. Buildings target
performance levels are discrete damage states selected from the infinite spectrum of possible damage states that
buildings could experience during an earthquake[6]. Enhanced Rehabilitation Objectives of FEMA-356[6] and
SEAOC 2000[7] give different deterministic IDR thresholds of RC frames, as following Table.1
Criterion Immediate Occupancy Life Safety Collapse Prevention
FEMA-356 1% 2% 4%
SEAOC 2000 0.5% 1.5% 2.5%

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Following the definition of target performance levels, the corresponding seismic hazard levels must be determined to
establish the performance objectives. Ground motion can be represented as time histories, acceleration response
spectra, displacement response spectra, drift demand spectra, or by other means. In this work, peak ground
acceleration (PGA) is used to represent the intensity of ground motion[6]. Chinese seismic design code[8] defines the
three-level performance objectives and RC frames will satisfy the demands of No Damage in Minor Earthquakes,
Mendable in Moderate Earthquakes and No Collapsing in Strong Earthquake. This paper combines domestic and
international norms, and divides target performance levels of infilled RC frames into three degrees: immediate
occupancy, life safety, collapse prevention, combining the limit states of both the main frame and infill walls. The
corresponding PGA values have been listed in Table.2.
Seismic Fortification Intensity 6 degree 7 degree 8 degree
PGA 0.15g 0.30g 0.45g


Modeling infill walls has been a major challenge. This paper uses an improved equivalent slant strut based on FEMA
356 guidelines, modified by Kadysiewski S and Mosalam K M[9]. Table.3 lists the material properties and area of
improved equivalent slant strut.
f mo (GPa) 17e-3

mo 0.00278

f mu (GPa) 1.99e-3

mu 0.00406

The effective width of equivalent slant strut is an important parameter in this model. Chen Yinsong[10], from
Chongqing university, built five simplified models of infilled RC frames and carried out finite element analysis. By
comparing these results with four tests, it can be verified that the effective width formula proposed by
Chrysostomou[11] can better simulate the interaction between infill walls and the main frame.
EW tw sin(2 )
w 0.175( h) d ,
4 Ec I c H in
The effective width of equivalent slant strut is 516 mm calculated by formula 1 in this paper. Physical parameters of
infill walls are given in Table.4.
Ew (Gpa) Ec (Gpa) I c (mm4 ) H in (mm) tw (mm) h(mm) d (mm)

5.034 19.4 2.13e+9 2800 120 0.676 3300 4883.6

This paper establishes a six-story infilled RC frame and bare RC frame, six bays in X direction and three bays in Y
direction on the software OpenSees. Figure.1 shows the three-dimensional models.
Ground motion is one of the most critical factors on the evaluation of target performance levels. The magnitude of
ground motion, its frequency content and duration are very difficult to predict. According to the concept proposed by
Jack Baker and Cornel[12] (Conditional Mean Spectrum, CMS), 30 seismic excitations are selected and modulated
into 7 PGA: 0.05g, 0.15g, 0.25g, 0.30g, 0.35g, 0.45g, 0.55g. In this work, IDA has been carried out and the
maximum displacement responses of respective nodes are collected. In Fig.1, it can be seen that the control nodes are
N25, N53, N81, N109, N137, N165, N193. Fig.2 plots the maximum interstory drifts (MID) of each story under 7
PGA values corresponding to 30 seismic excitations.
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(a) (b)
Fig.2 shows that the MID of six stories increase along with the increase of PGA values. Its clear that the 2nd storys
MID is usually larger than others. That can also be verified next. By comparison, lower floors displacement
responses are usually larger than higher floors. So the paper considers the 2nd story as the critical story of global
frame and its performance levels are defined as the global performance limit states.
According to the research report of Cimellaro G.P[13], the IDR can be assumed to be lognormally distributed. From
Fig.2, IDRs of each story will be figured out. By means of the method of maximum likelihood, the mean and
standard deviation of each story are worked out and plotted in Fig.3 and Fig.4, respectively. A large number of
points provide reasonable results to obtain the thresholds of target performance levels.



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In Fig.3, it is verified that the 2nd story is the critical story. In Fig.4, the standard deviations of the 2nd story are
largest, which means greater discreteness and more danger.
According to Chinese seismic design code[8], the PGA values of minor, moderate and strong earthquake can be taken
as 0.15g, 0.30g, 0.45g. As a result, the IDR thresholds of three target performance levels can be obtained from Fig.3.
Three performance levels Immediate Occupancy Life Safety Collapse Prevention
PGA 0.05g 0.30g 0.45g
threshold 0.45% 1.17% 1.94%

Owing to the limit of paper length, only part of analysis is presented here. This paper omits the modeling and IDA on
bare RC frame, and comparing thresholds of target performance levels among infilled RC frame, bare RC frame and
criterions, as shown in Fig.5.


From Fig.5, its clear that the thresholds of infilled RC frame are much smaller than the bare RC frames. For
immediate occupancy state, reducing 8%; for life safety state, reducing 10%; for collapse prevention state, reducing
35.3%. Thats to say that the existence of infill walls can significantly improve stiffness of global frame, raising its
seismic performance. If not taking into account the influence of infill walls, the drift ratio thresholds may be

Combining with the damage characteristics, research status and performance-based seismic design of infilled RC
frames, this paper presents a nonlinear finite-element modeling scheme for assessing three target performance
objectives. The main findings can be summarized as follows:
1, Based on the software OpenSees, improved equivalent slant struts are used to model infill walls. And a six-story
infilled RC frame is built as the nonlinear finite-element scheme, taking into account the influence of infill walls.
2, Combined with the definitions of criterions about the target performance levels, this paper divides the seismic
performance of infilled RC frames into three levels: immediate use, life safety, and collapse prevention, and carries
out IDA to obtain IDR of each story. The target performance levels consist of limit states of both the main frame and
infill walls under specific PGA.
3, Comparing the thresholds generated by the infilled RC frame, bare RC frame and criterions, its easy to find that
IDRs of infilled RC frame are clearly smaller. The existence of infill walls contributes to the stiffness of the main
frame and this structural contribution will increase following the addition of PGA.

The authors would like to acknowledge the funding support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China
under Award Number 51278420, Graduate Starting Seed Fund of Northeastern Polytechnical University under the
Grant Number Z2014114.
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[1] Fardis M N, Panagiotakos T B. Seismic design and response of bare and masonry-infilled reinforced concrete buildings. Part II:
infilled structures[J]. Journal of Earthquake Engineering. 1997, 1(3): 475-503
[2] Kappos A J, Stylianidis K C, Michailidis C N. Analytical models for brick masonry infilled R/C frames under lateral loading[J].
Journal of earthquake engineering. 1998, 2(1): 59-87
[3] Dolek M, Fajfar P. The effect of masonry infills on the seismic response of a four-storey reinforced concrete framea
deterministic assessment[J]. Engineering Structures. 2008, 30(7): 1991-2001
[4] Celarec D, Ricci P, Dolek M. The sensitivity of seismic response parameters to the uncertain modelling variables of
masonry-infilled reinforced concrete frames[J]. Engineering Structures. 2012, 35: 165-177
[5] Dymiotis C, Kappos A J, Chryssanthopoulos M K. Seismic reliability of masonry-infilled RC frames[J]. Journal of Structural
Engineering. 2001, 127(3): 296-305
[6] Fema P. Commentary for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings[J]. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, DC. 2000
[7] Vision S. Performance based seismic engineering of buildings[J]. Structural Engineers Association of California, Sacramento,
Calif. 1995
[8] GB. Code for Seismic Design of Buildings[S][Z]
[9] Kadysiewski S, Mosalam K M. Modeling of Unreinforced Masonry Infill Walls Considering In-Plane and Out-of-Plane
Interaction[M]. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, 2009
[10] Chen Yin Son. The Simulation Method and Effect Law for Masonry Infill Walls in Nonlinear Seismic Response Analysis of
Reinforced Concrete Frames[Z]. Chongqing University, 2011
[11] Chrysostomou C Z. Effects of degrading infill walls on the nonlinear seismic response of two-dimensional steel frames[J].
Dissertation Abstracts International. 1991, 51(12): 348
[12] Baker J W, Allin Cornell C. A vectorvalued ground motion intensity measure consisting of spectral acceleration and epsilon[J].
Earthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics. 2005, 34(10): 1193-1217
[13] Cimellaro G P, Reinhorn A M. Multidimensional performance limit state for hazard fragility functions[J]. Journal of engineering
mechanics. 2010, 137(1): 47-60

1 2
Lu Liu, born in 1991,earned his bachelor Ziyan Wu, born in 1962, Professor, responsible professor at
degree of civil engineering in Northwester northwestern polytechnical university civil engineering
n Polytechnical University,Xian, China. H discipline, managing director of civil engineering and
er research area covers applied fragility of construction of Shan Xi provincial institute, director of vibration
structures. institute of Shan Xi branch, China project management research
committee (PMRC) standing committee, China international
project management certification (IPMP) appraiser. Her research
area covers applied Structural health monitoring and reliability
Hongbin Sun, born in 1991, earned his bachelor degree of civil assessment. By now, she has published the papers: In-plane
engineering in Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xian, dynamic response analysis of curved pipe conveying fluid
China. His research area covers applied Structural health subjected to random excitation. Nuclear Engineering and Design,
monitoring and reliability assessment. 2013, 256: 214-226. (EI: 20130615987085, SCI:
000316522800022); The dynamic reliability analysis of pipe
conveying fluid based on a refined response surface method.
Journal of Vibration and Control.(SCI), etc.

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