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M.Sc. Civil Engineering Faculty, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran.
Tel: +98-9123804735
Prof. Civil Engineering Faculty, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran.

The advancement of technology and development of economy of the world have brought the
new era of tall buildings. In the recent years, there have been many tube-type structural
systems for tall buildings. However, Structure/architecture interaction has led to the present of
status structural systems. In this paper, in order to improve structurally and architecturally the
efficiency of tubular structures in tall buildings, a new structural system, called hexagrid
system, is introduced. Hexagrid system consists of hexagonal grids at the perimeter of the
building. It has tube -type performance due to its configuration. Hexagrids can carry stably
both gravity and lateral loads. It acts as a rigid shell and multiple structural systems. In this
study, the structural and architectural behaviors of hexagrid system are investigated. A set of
buildings, 50-, 80-story and 110-story buildings were chosen to obtain a comprehensive
understanding of its performance.

Key words: Hexagrid, Architecture, structural system, tall buildings

Tall building developments have been rapidly increasing worldwide. The interrelation
between architecture and structure has led to the emergence of tall buildings and
consequently, the evolution of the structural system, in the late of the 19th century to the
present. In the recent years, the most efficient structural system for tall buildings is tube-type
system. Tubular structures, which locate major lateral load-resisting system on the perimeter
of the buildings to achieve cantilevered tube action, made the structural systems for tall
buildings much more efficient and economical. These types of structures due to creating more
internal desirable column-free spaces can attach the architects and designers attention.
Consequently, Tubular structures of the 1960s and 1970s use less material than the braced
rigid framed of the early 1930s. A famous framed tube system was employed for the World
Trade Center in New York, a braced tube John Hancock Building in Chicago, a bundled tube
system for the Sears Tower in Chicago and a tube-in-tube 181 West Madison Street [1]. More
recently, the diagrid structural system with tubular behavior is being employed as structurally
efficient as well as architecturally satisfying structural system for tall buildings. Perimeter
diagonals act as a façade, which governs the aesthetics of the building to a great degree.
However, as the height of the building increases, the lateral resisting system becomes more
important than gravitational load bearing system. Improvement in fabrication and
combination of lateral resisting systems can greatly push the height limit.
The objective of this paper is to introduce a new structural system, called hexagrid. In order to
have a better understanding of structural concepts, a study of a set of tall buildings with
various aspect ratios, was conducted [2].

The primary role of the structural system is to provide stability, strength and stiffness against
the loads applied during a building life cycle. Despite the structural efficiency, if the system
also architecturally responds to the aesthetic requirements, many architectural and structural
designers will be interested in using it. In fact, a system is efficient if it resists lateral loads
and gravity loads with the same structural elements. In addition, overturning forces due to
lateral loads should be resisted by elements as far from the building center as possible and on
members carrying sufficient gravity load to avoid uplift.
In this section a new structural system, called Hexagrid system is introduced. It consists of
multiple hexagonal grids at the exterior perimeter surfaces of the building.
The hexagrids resist by both gravity and lateral loads by axial stress of their members.
Therefore, these simply act in tension or compression with no bending. The hexagrid system
resembles a tube system. This system behaves exactly like a box girder, due to its
configuration. Depending upon the direction of loading, the faces act as either a web or a
flange panel. The hexagonal members are assumed to be pins-end. The angle between
elements at each joint is about 120 degrees. Due to its configuration, it resembles tubular
structures. The hexagonal arrangements significantly affect aesthetics requirements.
The way of locating the inclined members to the corner columns specifies that they act like
tension or compression elements against lateral loads on the web panel. As Figure 1 shows the
vertical member on the web panel, at each joint, does not carry any lateral load ideally, and
carries only gravity load. However, hexagrid systems like the other tubular systems suffer from
shear lag effect. Therefore, the axial force of vertical elements against lateral load in the web
panel is not completely zero. In fact, the reason of the insignificant axial forces in the vertical
elements is the shear lag effect, but the existence of vertical elements decreases shear lag effect
significantly. Thus, hexagrid system is a rigid and stable shell.

a. Tension flange panel b. Compression flange panel c. Web panel

Figure1 . Hexagrid system axial forces (wind load)

a. Shear diagram b. bending diagram

Figure2 . Moment and shear lateral force diagrams for hexagrid system (wind load)

It can be considered that the hexagrid system contains of a large number of an especial
element. Although in this element, the vertical member does not bear any lateral load on the
web panel, it participates in lateral stiffness combination involving a couple of stiffness
similar to couple of forces. In contrast, the vertical member participates directly in lateral
stiffness combination on the flange panel (Figure 3).
In fact, the behavior of hexagrid system under lateral load is approximately similar to the
diagrid one because it resists both gravity and lateral loads by axial stress of its members. In
addition, it behaves like tubular structures having belt trusses located at near distances along
the height of the building.

Figure 3. Lateral load distribution in hexagrid system[2]

Considering only shear rigidity, the optimal angle for diagonal members can be estimated
using the simple braced frame model. The key assumption is that the members carry only
axial forces (Moon, 2007) [3]. According to Moon's study, the shear rigidity is given by
DT  Ad Ed sin 2 cos  (1)

The plot of sin2θcosθ indicated that the optimal angle for maximum shear rigidity is about 35
degrees and as a previous result, the optimal angle of the column for maximum bending
rigidity is 90 degrees (Figure 4, Moon 2007). The results are according to hexagrid

Figure 4. sin2θcosθ (Moon, 2007)

In hexagrid system, the density of steel material decreases on façade, so that transmission
daylight through the building skin increases.


The computer software used to analyze and design the models was SAP2000 [4]. The
buildings were designed to resist wind load. In order to establish the wind load the document
SEI / ASCE 7-05 (minimum design loads for Building and other structures) is used [5]. They
are assumed to be in an exposure B and within category III. Based on the code, the basic wind
speed is considered 100 mph. The design methodology applied to control the strength of the
members checked according to LRFD code requirements [6], are towards to satisfy H/400
allowable lateral displacement.
Figure 5 shows the plan view of a typical candidate building. They are configured
symmetrically in all directions. Different aspect ratio within the 50-, 80-, and 110- story
buildings were chosen to achieve comprehensive understanding of their behavior as shown in
Figure 6.Table 1 listed the Geometric parameters for models.

Table 1. Geometric parameters for models

Description Value
Story Height 4 m typical
Width 56 m
Beam Span 7 m typical
Beam Spacing 3.5 m typical
Floor Live Load 500 kg/m2
Floor Dead Load 600 kg/m2

Figure 5. 2D plan view of the hexagrid structure models

Figure 6. 50-, 80- and 110- story hexagrid structures

In this section, a process is conducted to obtain the preliminary study for the hexagrid system.
The required stiffness terms are generated by passing the following stages. In this
methodology, the corner columns are not considered.

Figure 7. Hexagrid structure module





( ) ( )







( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Where the parameters are defined as:
: Cross- section area of the inclined member in one web panel
: Cross- section area of the vertical member in one flange panel (column)
: Cross- section area of the inclined member in one flange panel
: Number of the inclined member in one web panel
: Number of the vertical member in one flange panel (column)
: Number of the inclined member in one flange panel
: Inclined member strain
: Vertical member strain
These equations completely clarify the behavior of the hexagrid structures[2].

In, this paper, an innovative structural system called Hexagrid, was introduced. It consists of
multiple hexagonal grids at the exterior perimeter surfaces of building. While many
contemporary esthetic decisions are guided by subjective visual judgment, the use of hexagrid
structures stands as an innovation that requires a partnership between architecture and
structure interest.
Hexagrid system is a particular form of belt trusses mixed tubular system and resists lateral
loads acting in tension or compression. In this research, a set of structures using hexagrid
system, designs for 50-, 80-and 110–Story buildings. In this study, wind-induced response
was investigated. Results indicate that it is a rigid and stable shell for tall buildings.
The advantages of hexagrid system are briefly the following: desirable architecture, enough
flexibility, sensitive stiffness (Pushing the limit height), simple tension and compression
behavior, high shear mode of deflection, pleasant Ductility, and multiple structural systems.
Overall, hexagrid system is the ideal structural system for high-rise buildings.

[1] Ali MM, Moon K. Structural development in tall buildings: currents trends and future
prospects. Architectural Science Review 50(3): 2007. 205-203.
[2] Mashhadiali N, Kheyroddin A. Proposing the hexagrid system as a new structural
system for tall buildings. The Structural Design of Tall and Special Buildings (in press)
[3] Moon KS. Dynamic interrelationship between technology and architecture in tall
buildings. Ph.D. dissertation. Cambridge (MA): Department of Architecture ,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,2005.
[4] SAP2000. Structural Analysis Program. Computers and Structures: Berkeley, CA. 2009.
[5] ASCE. Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and other structures. American Society of
Civil Engineering. Reston,VA. 2006.
[6] AISC Load and Resistance Factor Design Specification for Structural Steel Buildings.
American Institute of Steel Construction: Chicago, IL. 2000.
[7] Taranath B. Wind and earthquake resistant buildings - Structural analysis and design.
Marcel Decker, New York. 2005.
[8] Stafford Smith B, Coull A. Tall Building Structures: Analysis and Design. John Wiley&
Sons, New York , NY, USA. 1991.