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Seismic Behavior of Steel Braced Frame Connections to Composite Columns

Charles W. Roeder, Gregory MacRae and Christopher Waters University of Washington

ABSTRACT Concrete filled tubes (CFT) offer large axial stiffness and load capacity and are suitable for columns in braced frames. However, brace-to-beam-tocolumn connections are a concern. Past designs vary widely, and their seismic behavior is uncertain. Past applications of CFT columns in braced frames are summarized. The difficulties in connection design are discussed, and nonlinear computer analyses to evaluate the seismic performance of these connections are reviewed. An experimental investigation of the connection performance will be performed. INTRODUCTION Concrete filled tubes (CFT) columns have been used for seismic resistant construction, because they offer significant advantages over either steel or reinforced concrete. The concrete provides compressive strength and stiffness to the steel tube and restrains local buckling. The steel tube provides formwork to the concrete, minimizes the cost of the concrete placement, reinforces the concrete for axial tension, bending and shear, and enhances the ductility of the column. CFT columns are particularly well suited for braced frames, because large axial strength and stiffness are needed. This combination is particularly desirable for seismic design, because braced frames are very efficient for seismic design, and lateral loads place great demands on the columns. Further, seismic design requires a combination of strength, stiffness and ductility from the structural system. While CFT columns are desirable for braced frames, there is little guidance regarding the design and construction of connections between the braced frame and the CFT columns. Variations of brace-to-beam-to-column connections (BBC connections) have been used, but there has been no research regarding the seismic performance of these connections. As a consequence, the seismic behaviors of the alternative BBC connections are not understood, and the relative economy of the various alternatives is uncertain.

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but the usage in these other countries has primarily been with moment resisting frames. the gusset plate has a number of shear connectors to help distribute the brace and beam forces and moments between the steel and concrete in the CFT column. while Fig. In Fig. high-rise project (Hooper et al.PAST APPLICATIONS A number of buildings have been constructed with braced frames and CFT columns. Figure 1. 1. CFT columns have been widely used in Japan and other countries well before they were commonly used in the US. This building is illustrated in Fig. Figure 2 schematically shows several of these connection alternatives. and it employs a braced frame with moment connections and CFT columns at the four corners of the braced core. also used variations of this structural system. such as the University of Washington football stadium. 1) with CFT columns was the 100 First Street Plaza in San Francisco. other braced frame buildings with CFT columns have been constructed. Other structures. Figure 3 illustrates another detail that has been used occasionally. The alternatives illustrated in Figs 2a and 2b employ large gusset plates that penetrate into the CFT column. California. First Street Plaza Building Constructed with Braced Frames and CFT Columns While different buildings have used braced steel frames with CFT columns. The first U. Since that period. a wide range of BBC connections have also been employed. A building with more than 100 stories has been designed but not constructed. This usage appears to have initiated in the United States. 2b has a plain gusset plate with no shear connectors. It is 27 stories tall. 2a.S. Shear connectors are attached to the inside of the tube to help distribute moments and forces between the steel and 52 . Building heights have been up to 60 stories.

However. at least one recent braced frame building in Japan has employed CFT columns. but seldom used in Japan. Typical Brace-Beam. This interlock should help distribute brace and beam loads to the steel and concrete of the CFT column. and they use an internal diaphragm connection. 2d. Japanese engineers commonly use CFT columns with moment resisting frames. Figure 2d is a variation of the internal diaphragm connection. Figure 2. This later connection requires four complete joint penetration welds around the perimeter of the tube at each beam-comlumn intersection. The diaphragms penetrate into the tube and interlock with the concrete fill. Braced frames with CFT columns have been frequently used in the US. but the brace and the beam are attached to the steel tube with a typical steel-tosteel connection.Column Connections for Braced Frames with CFT Columns 53 . and the BBC connections for this building are schematically shown in Fig.the concrete.

The consequence of this inelastic deformation is permanent yielding and deformation of the structure. The BBC connection must also distribute these forces and moments between the steel tube and the concrete fill if the CFT column is to perform as required. or as an alternative. The connections and the columns are designed to be strong enough to sustain the full compressive buckling load and the full tensile yield load of the brace. and so the tensile force must be distributed to the steel tube. The inelastic performance of braced frames is dominated by yielding and buckling of the braces. stiffness. 54 . and these combine to provide moderate building response during major earthquakes at significantly reduced initial cost of the structure. The inelastic deformation changes the stiffness of structure and dissipates energy. connections and other elements. ductility and inelastic performance of the system. Inelastic deformation of the braces is tolerable. the concrete fill stiffens and strengthens the steel for compressive load. As a consequence. and so shear forces must be distributed between the steel and concrete in some appropriate manner. However. It requires that there either be reliable shear stress transfer between the steel tube and the concrete fill as illustrated in Fig. Significant inelastic deformation is permitted during large earthquakes that have a small probability of occurrence. This complex distribution of force is not magically achieved. First. Finally. and so the compressive force must be distributed between the concrete and the steel. This multi-level performance design procedure requires that the engineer consider the strength. These connections must develop and retain the resistance necessary to transfer brace and beam forces and moments. and benefits the inelastic response of the structure. Connections transfer moments and forces from member to member. but they also support gravity loads and prevent collapse of the structure. and therefore the steel tube must either carry the full bending capacity of the column or it must at least resist all tensile stress due to bending moments. Therefore. the inelastic buckling and deformation of the brace places additional demands on the connection. the steel acts as shear reinforcement to the concrete. the steel tube serves as sole flexural reinforcement to the concrete. one key issue in the seismic design of braced frames with the CFT columns is the determination of whether the BBC connections are able to achieve these objectives. As a consequence of this design method. limits forces delivered to columns. seismic design requirements (AISC 2) for braced frames require that the brace be the weak link. All of these requirements must be satisfied with full consideration of the inelastic structural deformation and the uncertainty in material properties and performance of the as-built structure. the engineer must assure that the structure retains its basic integrity during these severe earthquakes without building collapse or loss of life. Premature failure or fracture of the columns or connections results in poor performance which defeats the goals of the seismic design approach. the BBC connections must aid in the force distribution and transfer. Second. 3. Columns assist in resisting the lateral loads. the steel tube serves as tensile reinforcing to the CFT column. Multiple requirements must be achieved if this performance goal is to be met.SEIMSMIC DEMANDS Seismic design is performed so that the building remains elastic and completely servicable during and immediately after small frequent earthquakes. Third. while the structure and the bracing members sustain large inelastic deformations. since it retains the economy of the design.

Figure 3. 3 is an issue of some concern. Braced frames place large demands at every BBC connection. 3. Distribution of Stress Transfer Demands 55 . Stress Transfer Between Steel and Concrete POTENTIAL PROBLEMS IN DESIGN OF THESE CONNECTIONS The ability to achieve the shear stress transfer required by equilibrium and illustrated in Fig. This figure shows that the force or moment that is applied to either the steel tube or the concrete fill must be appropriately shared with the other material in a very short distance (usually much less than one tube diameter). and Roeder 4). If the shear stress transfer capacity between the steel tube and concrete does not exceed the demand. and the shear transfer demands are found to be large and very localized as illustrated in Fig. Figure 4. 4. Past research evaluated this shear transfer (Roeder et al. slip occurs and causes permanent changes to the steel concrete interface.

The shear transfer capacity was shown to be a function of the tube diameter.0. the triangular shear stress demand distribution can be used over a length equal to one half the diameter of the tube. 2a or 2b. The BBC connection employed in the U. and so the natural shear stress transfer is clearly inadequate for seismic design of most BBC connections. d. d/t. serviceability and economy are shear connectors are not needed when the natural shear transfer capacity exceeds the demand.24 . Proposed Bond Stress Evaluation Model for CFT The shear stress transfer capacity was evaluated (Roeder et al. 3. the BBC connection must aid in this transfer. is ƒ2 = 1. 3 exceed the shear transfer capacity available within most CFT columns. but mechanical shear transfer must be employed for the full transfer requirement whenever demand exceeds capacity. and so variations of these connections provide the basis of the nonlinear analysis. ƒ2 . 5. At the ultimate load performance level. A series of non-linear analyses with the ABAQUS computer program were completed to evaluate these options. Most BBC connections used for seismic design of buildings employed penetrating gusset plate connections as illustrated in Figs. At the serviceability limit state. and Roeder 4) for CFT elements. 4 and 5) of the CFT columns. Most CFT columns used in the US are large diameter tubes with large d/t ratios. because of separation that may occur between the steel and concrete and the limited confinement provided by thin tubes.5 times the tube diameter as illustrated in Fig. shear transfer demand can be uniformly distributed over the perimeter of the tube and a length equal to the smaller of the column length or 3. of Washington stadium and illustrated in the photo of 56 . INELASTIC COMPUTER ANALYSIS The shear transfer demands needed to make the CFT column a functional part of the braced frame as illustrated in Fig.Figure 5. or mechanical transfer devices must be employed within the critical area (see Figs.0029 d (in MPa and d is in mm) (1) The transfer capacity is effectively zero for tubes with large diameter and large d/t ratio.0702 (d/t) + 0. The penetration of this gusset plate should help to distribute moments and forces between the steel tube and the concrete fill. and the important engineering criteria for safety. and diameter to thickness ratio. Therefore. The shear stress capacity that is two standard deviations below the mean capacity.

The interaction between steel and concrete elements was modeled using contact pairs consisting of master (steel) and slave (concrete) surfaces. The ABAQUS concrete model is not designed to handle situations in which the concrete is well confined. The interface between the steel and concrete surfaces were also parameters of interest. The tube thickness was 12. The tensile strength of the concrete was limited to less than 8% of the compressive strength. Photograph of Prototype Connection A detailed finite element grid illustrated in Fig.3. 7 modeled the connection. and a strain hardening ratio of 4% of the elastic modulus. a Poisson’s ratio of 0. The connection is quite large with an outside diameter of approximately 710 mm. This prototype was selected because it is of intermediate scale to BBC connections used in existing structures. Because of the limited stress transfer capability noted earlier. The elements were 3 dimensional 8-node brick elements. requiring that the clearance between the surfaces be zero before the surfaces may interact. Figure 6. Before any loads are placed on the model. but it is much smaller than connections used on a number of the large buildings noted earlier. the clearance between all steel and concrete surfaces is zero. Hard contact was specified. but this model consistently failed to converge in regions where moderately large stress and strain developed. 57 . and the steel was modeled as a bi-linear plastic material with a yield stress of 345 MPa.Fig.5 mm (for a d/t of approximately 57) in the basic model. Initially the ABAQUS unreinforced concrete element was employed. no adhesion or rigid attachment between the steel and concrete were permitted. but this coefficient of friction was also a parameter considered in the study.3. an ultimate tensile stress of 380 MPa. and therefore the tension softening curve was artificially extended to provide some apparent ductility (although at extremely low tensile stress) to the behavior. the surfaces are permitted to transfer normal stress and shear stress through friction. but the compressive strength of the concrete was a variable parameter in the study. When in contact. 6 is the prototype for this analysis. There was considerable difficulty in modeling the concrete. The coefficient of friction was initially chosen to be 0. but this thickness (and the resulting d/t) was varied throughout the study.

7 were monotically applied to the specimen. The compressive load on the CFT column was a parameter of interest in the analysis. Schematic of Analytical Model The loads illustrated in Fig. The maximum brace loads were computed based upon the tensile yield and compressive buckling capacity of the diagonal brace pair. and so supports of the assemblage were theoretically not required. However. The loads were applied so that the specimen was always in equilbrium. a single node located at the centroid of the column was pinned or restrained with a spring at each of the top and bottom crosssectional surfaces. The plane of symmetry constrained the other components of rigid body translation and rotation. The resulting model had 5100 elements and 8863 nodes. The model utilized symmetry. A spring element with a stiffness of 350. and the brace loads were later simultaneously applied in increments to observe the nonlinear behavior of the connection.4 kN/mm was applied at the bottom of the column. but all other deflections and rotations were permitted. As a result. and the model was split through the center of the CFT column and gusset plate as shown in Fig. 58 . accidental imbalance occurs because of roundoff and other errors.Figure 7. 7. and this load was varied between 10% and 30% of the compressive load capacity of the column. The gravity loads in the CFT column were applied first. Out-of-plane movements and in-plane rotations were restrained on this plane of symmetry. These restraints prevented rigid body translation in the plane of symmetry and rigid body rotation (vector directions defined by right hand rule) perpendicular to the plane of symmetry. Computer analyses required periods from as little as a few hours to more than a day for completion on Sun Sparc Workstation.

but the limitations of the finite element model result in convergence problems at these highly stressed locations. 8. 8. Stress Contours in Concrete Below the Gusset Plate While bearing of the gusset plate on the concrete is the critical transfer mechanism.PARAMETERS AFFECTING CONNECTION PERFORMANCE Initial analyses evaluated convergence and mesh refinement of the model but are not discussed here. the average compressive stress in the concrete is slightly approximately 10. as the primary load path from the braces to the concrete. In the models using a high coefficient of friction (0.9 MPa under the loaded edge of the gusset plate and 29. In Fig. friction provides the only stress transfer between the steel tube and the concrete fill or between the side of the gusset plate and concrete. Stress concentrations are noted in the steel tube and the gusset plate at these junctures. Yielding is noted at several locations in the gusset plate and the steel tube. As a result. some load transfer occurs because of friction between the steel and concrete.2 MPa at the opposing corner. The large bearing stresses occur in the concrete immediately below the gusset plate at the corner intersection of the plate and tube. the force transferred by frictional shear transfers approximately 32% of the total vertical component of brace forces. There was no attachment between the steel and concrete. This is illustrated in the contours of compressive stress in the concrete below the gusset plate in Fig. Later analyses show that the connection relies primarily on the bearing capacity of the concrete. but it was not insignificant. and the material can probably tolerate stresses larger stress than the uniaxial compressive capacity of the concrete. The highly stressed area is in hydrostatic compression. The concrete is well confined in this area. but the stresses in the steel are larger and the consequences of the high stress are less severe in the analytical solution. Figure 8. As the coefficient of friction increases and larger portions of the brace force are distributed to the concrete through friction. This friction transfer was smaller than the bearing stress transfer noted above. and the attachment of the brace to the gusset plate are such locations. The maximum bearing is delivered through the edge of the gusset plate into the concrete.2 MPa. The juncture of the gusset plate and the steel tube. the maximum bearing stress beneath the plate 59 .4). but the actual bearing stress is 58. but it is quite local.

but it is not large enough to effectively develop shear studs. but it doesn’t reduce the slip and deformation with the connection or otherwise improve the load transfer between steel and concrete. the extent to which this friction transfer can be used is unclear. 9. and these factors are not easily controlled. The reduction is stress is not huge. and the shear stress transfer does not distribute the stress between the steel and concrete rapidly enough to achieve strain compatibility. Other parameters were evaluated. the steel gusset plate is highly stressed. Increased thickness of the gusset plate directly lowered the maximum bearing stresses on the concrete. but the demand is pulled below the ultimate capacity of the concrete and reduces the local strain demand and potential for crushing. since the greater stiffness of the walls of the tube provided better confinement and resulted in larger contact stresses and friction along that interface. Concrete with increased strength tolerates the large bearing stress such as illustrated in Fig. The stress 60 . 9 better. The slip is largest near the mid height of the gusset plate near the loaded edge. The slip occurring within these BBC connections provides a small relative deformation. Shear studs do not appear to be an effective way of improving the shear transfer between the steel and concrete. As a result. Increased wall thickness of the steel tube significantly reduced the maximum bearing stress in the concrete. A larger portion of the transfer appeared to occur between the concrete and the steel tube. Friction depends on the surface condition of the steel and concrete and shrinkage effects. Other mechanical transfer devices with greater stiffness may benefit the connection performance. while the concrete is only lightly stressed.decreases as shown in Fig. Figure 10 shows the pattern of slip between the gusset plate and the concrete of a typical specimen. At this location. 2a and on the inside of the tube as illustrated in Fig. The effect of the strength of the concrete on the BBC connection behavior was considered. The capacity of the connection to transfer and distribute load between the steel and concrete is dependent on the concrete strength and the thickness of the plate and tube. 2c was also investigated. Shear studs are relatively flexible. but this slip was more uniform for a given length. Slip is a concern because it represents a potential source of deterioration within the CFT column and connection and it decreases as the coefficient of friction increases. The slip occurs because the strain in the steel and concrete are not compatible. Figure 9. and the slip occurs in the region with relatively large strain differential. The potential use of shear studs on the gusset plate as illustrated in Fig. Effect of Increased Friction on the Maximum Concrete Bearing Stress There was significant slip between the steel and concrete. and they develop their full shear resistance only after sustaining (Taylor 5) a relative deformation. Slip was also noted between the concrete and the steel tube.

R.. Direct bearing of steel against the concrete was shown to be a promising method for force transfer. Chicago.W.. AISC. B. ASCE. B.. d/t ratios and force demands expected in typical US frames. Kelmencic. Cameron. They are providing practical insight into the use of CFT columns in actual braced frame construction and assisting with analysis and evaluation of the research results. (1998) “Composite Action in Concrete Filled Tubes.concentration at the junction between the tube and the bottom edge of the plate is a critical point within the connection.W. Mr. “Concrete Filled Tube Braced Frame Testing”. Also. C. Due to the large diameter. May 1999. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work is funded by the Nat ional Science Foundation under Grant CMS-9905797. Civil Engineering. February 1999. REFERENCES 1. 2.. Washington. 61 . Figure 10. J. Dr.C. transfer of force from the braces in the column infill concrete is necessary. AISC. K. and Brown. Roeder. V. S. D. C. Brown are technical advisors on the project. IL 1997. Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings.. John Hooper and Prof.” Structural Engineering. 3. Their support is greatly appreciated.B. Concrete-Filled Tubes for High-Rise Construction.D. C... C. Testing and further analysis are presently underway and final conclusions should be available in approximately 18 months. Gopu are the Program Managers for this study. Hooper. No 5. ASCE. Vol 125. and Nordquist. Roeder. friction between the concrete and steel was shown to be unreliable for design. the use of shear connections is unsatisfactory since excessively large deformations are required to develop there shear transfer. Slip Between the Gusset Plate and Concrete Fill CONCLUSIONS In order for CFT braced frames to behave well. Liu and Dr. C.

Proceedings.W. University of Washington. Banff.” ASCE Special Publication. June 2000.. Canada.W. 1985.4. “A Study of the Behavior of Simply Supported Composite Beams. 5. A.” A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Civil Engineering. Engineering Foundation Conference on Composite Construction IV.. Seattle. C. Roeder. WA. “Composite Behavior Between Steel and Concrete Systems for Lateral Loads. 62 . Taylor.