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Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345

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Fundamental principles of the reinforced concrete design code changes

in Chile following the Mw 8.8 earthquake in 2010
Leonardo M. Massone ⇑
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Chile, Blanco Encalada 2002, Santiago, Chile

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The Mw 8.8 earthquake in 2010 in Chile provided valuable information regarding the damage and poten-
Received 15 November 2012 tial design code changes for reinforced concrete (RC) structures. Many modern RC buildings suffered
Revised 2 July 2013 severe damage, mainly in the form of concrete cover spalling, followed by longitudinal boundary bar
Accepted 8 July 2013
buckling and concrete crushing. The absence of wall boundary detailing explains such behavior, but older
Available online 8 August 2013
structures and thousands of other buildings suffered minor or no damage at all. An analysis of some
potential factors that influenced the damage caused is carried out and the fundamental principles for
the Chilean RC design code changes are exposed. Currently, a displacement-based approach is used for
Shear wall
detailing of the wall boundary elements as well as for establishing damage limitation. Compressive con-
Earthquake crete strain cannot exceed 0.008, limiting indirectly the axial load, which is one of the potential precur-
Chile sors of the damage. Transversal reinforcement is also provided in zones of potential yielding of the
Design longitudinal reinforcement such that buckling due to compression preceded by tension is minimized; this
Confinement buckling is more likely in asymmetric cross-sections, such as T-shaped sections, where usually the web
Buckling goes into larger tensile and compressive strains given the variation of location of the neutral axis for the
web under tension or compression.
Ó 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction to prevent current buildings from suffering similar damage in fu-

ture earthquakes. Studies are currently being carried out to provide
The Mw 8.8 2010 earthquake in Chile impacted the country additional information for future code considerations.
over a coastal length of about 500 km, covering the most densely Modern RC building construction in Chile is based on shear
populated regions. Within that region, the reinforced concrete walls, which are designed according to ACI 318. The formal refer-
(RC) building stock increased in the last two decades, with more ence to ACI 318 was originally implemented though the Chilean
than 1000 buildings with 10–30 stories. During that period, the seismic code (NCh433.Of96 [2]), which requires the use of
construction of residential buildings greater than 15 stories be- ACI318-95 for RC building construction. However, based on the
came more common whereas earlier, construction was focused good performance of RC shear wall buildings in Viña del Mar in
on buildings with less than 15 stories. Modern buildings also pre- the 1985 earthquake, the ACI 318-95 requirements for special
sented a few characteristics that differ from older structures, such transverse reinforcement at wall boundaries to confine the con-
as thin walls and discontinuities, among others [1]. The damage crete and restrain rebar bucking were eliminated. Seismic design
was concentrated on newer structures, which also probably pre- approaches for most RC buildings include modal response spec-
sents the largest building stock, specifically taller buildings (usu- trum analysis, and the design spectra are based on historical
ally over 15 stories). Most buildings presented no structural earthquakes.
damage or suffered very moderate damage, which required no As summarized by Massone et al. [1], typical buildings in Chile
eviction. Some other buildings (40) presented severe damage that have a large number of shear walls, with a total wall area over wall
was either repaired or, in rare cases, demolished. It is interesting to plan area of roughly 3% in each principal direction of a building.
note that intermediate situations were uncommon-that is, they Although the wall area has been maintained over the years, newer
either presented serious damage or almost no damage at all, imply- structures increased the number of stories, moving the average
ing a brittle nature of the behavior. The severity of damage in mod- building of 15 stories to about 25 floors. The increment of stories
ern buildings prompted the engineering community to study the has resulted in higher axial loads in newer buildings [3]. The design
general nature of damage caused and propose an emergency code code did not put a limit on the level of axial stress allowed for grav-
ity load or combined gravity and lateral loads. The construction of
⇑ Tel.: +56 229784984. new buildings is also characterized by the use of a common layout:
E-mail address:
longitudinal walls on each side of a central corridor that form a

0141-0296/$ - see front matter Ó 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1336 L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345

spine and perpendicular (transverse) walls, or ribs, spaced at the capability to sustain an important axial load, given the pres-
roughly 5 m along the corridor. Thus, the walls in each principal ence of basically unconfined concrete. Upon spalling of the con-
direction are often connected to form T-shaped or L-shaped crete cover, 90° hooks on the transverse reinforcement opened
cross-sections. due to buckling of the longitudinal reinforcement. Buckling of
A combination of large axial loads, relatively large lateral wall the longitudinal reinforcement in walls was also combined, in
displacement due to the earthquake, and poor wall boundary some cases, with the fracture of the reinforcement, likely due to
detailing, besides wall discontinuities at the failure zone, resulted large cyclic strains.
in the damage of walls. Even though other failure types were observed, this work fo-
cuses on the code changes and their fundamental principles
regarding the failure caused by actions of axial load combined with
2. Research significance

The Mw 8.8 earthquake in 2010 in Chile revealed that most

buildings in Chile were capable of sustaining a strong earthquake.
4. Construction characteristics and material response
However, modern RC building construction was severely damaged
in some cases. This work presents an analysis of the damage
The ineffective 90° end hooks of the horizontal web reinforce-
caused by actions of axial load combined with bending that char-
ment imply that the concrete could be considered to be unconfined
acterized such buildings and exposes the fundamental principles
for practical purposes. Thus, for normal strength concrete, which is
for the new RC design code, intended to provide safer structures
the common case, peak compressive strength would be reached at
for future strong quakes. The main changes focus on special wall
a strain of about 0.002. This also indicates that upon loss of con-
boundary detailing, concrete damage limitation, and buckling
crete cover, rapid degradation is to be expected.
restraining (in cases not controlled by concrete compression
The unanchored horizontal reinforcement favors buckling of the
longitudinal reinforcement. In many cases, the damaged zone cov-
ers a height of about 400 mm or 500 mm (L), which is generally
3. Damage in new buildings about twice the horizontal reinforcement spacing, and also twice
the wall thickness. Considering that boundary longitudinal rein-
Damage in buildings, located at the ground level or at the base- forcement is commonly 22 mm or 25 mm in diameter (d), the
ment (Fig. 1), was usually observed in several rectangular or T- buckled length to the bar diameter correlation is close to 20 (L/d)
shaped shear walls and often over the entire wall length. In cases [4]. If we only consider buckling degradation due to direct com-
where a long corridor was structured by T-shaped walls, seismic pression, the compressive strength is a function of L/d, as well as
movement in the short direction of the building caused significant the compressive strain attained, among other material parameters.
damage, specifically at the most compressed end of the web. In Fig. 3 shows the degradation of compressive capacity (strength ra-
general, spalling of concrete followed by concrete crushing and tio, fb/fs, at maximum compressive strain for symmetric cycles be-
the buckling of vertical reinforcement were observed. Typically, tween the compressive capacity with and without buckling effect,
the damage was concentrated over a short height, apparently be- fb and fs, respectively) due to buckling for different L/d ratios and
cause the buckling of vertical bars led to a concentration of the different levels of maximum compressive strain (the total strain
damage [4], indistinctly in the lower or upper part of the story. would be twice that value). The curves were constructed based
Commonly, the only weak constraints of longitudinal reinforce- on a model with 4 plastic hinges that has shown good correlations
ment against buckling were the large spacing of horizontal web with monotonic [5] and cyclic [6] response of reinforcements sub-
reinforcements (20 cm) terminated as 90° hooks with an L- or U- jected to buckling. The model considers four lumped plastic hinges
shape (Fig. 2). Fig. 2b shows, with double red lines, the L-shape located at the bar center (2) and ends (2). The resultant force and
(left) and U-shape (right) termination of horizontal web reinforce- moment are estimated by means of a sectional analysis that con-
ment bars after being opened due to buckling of the longitudinal siders the nonlinear response of steel. The equilibrium is satisfied
reinforcement. Because the walls were thin, typically 15–20 cm in the deformed position, introducing geometric nonlinearity. For
thick, any spalling of cover concrete (about 2 cm on each side) re- the analysis, typical (not nominal) steel properties were considered
sulted in an important reduction in the wall thickness, along with (yield stress-470 MPa, initiation of strain hardening-0.005, peak
stress of 707 MPa at 0.12 strain). In Fig. 2b, the ratio L/d is close
to 20, and considering that the transversal displacement is close
to 3d or 4d, then, based on shortening only due to the rotation of
the plastic hinges leading to transversal displacement, the total
strain from the straight position to the shown buckled position
would be close to 7% (this could be qmonotonic compression
ffi or after
2 2
an initial tension from a length of 2 ð10dÞ þ ð4dÞ ¼ 21:5d, which
yields a total deformation of (21.5d  20d)/21.5d = 7%). This indi-
cates that the buckled reinforcement would have almost no resid-
ual capacity (Fig. 3).
Fig. 2b shows a series of buckled bars on the right side of the
wall section, whereas on the left side last three bars also present
fracture at mid-height of the buckle length. Fracture in this case,
as can be seen in the figure, shows no indication of a reduced
cross-section or necking of the bar due to stress concentration at
the fracture zone, as commonly seen in direct tension tests. Failure
is rather associated to fracture due to fatigue, which presents an al-
most clean horizontal cut of the reinforcement. This type of failure
under low strain or stress is common in mechanical equipment
Fig. 1. Typical shear wall damage. requiring millions or thousands of cycles. In our case, where few
L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345 1337

Fig. 2. Boundary wall reinforcement – (a) general view, and (b) fracture and buckling.

1 large wall top displacements (1.5%), for a stable response (before

L/d=6 degradation), where lw is the wall length. Thus, for a typical wall
L/d=10 length of 5 m, the expected plastic hinge length is about 1.7–
0.8 2.5 m. That is about 3–5 times what was observed in wall bound-
fb/fs (degradation)

aries without detailing. If we consider that most of the strains in
the longitudinal reinforcement in walls in Chile are inelastic (con-
0.6 servative estimate, since a large percentage distributes over the en-
tire length of the wall) and concentrate within the plastic hinge
length, then after restraining buckling, the plastic hinge length
0.4 could increase in about 3–5 times, reducing the strain in about
the same magnitude. This would rapidly increase the bar life under
0.01 0.02 0.03 0.04
Strain (max.) 5. Axial load and bending in slender wall tests

Fig. 3. Compressive degradation due to buckling for different L/d and strain values. The following section describes findings associated to slender
wall tests and analysis from the literature, which particularly deals
with confinement quantity, reinforcement buckling restraint, im-
cycles with large wall lateral displacement demands were ob-
pact of wall section asymmetry in strain history, among others.
served from the earthquake associated with a large strain magni-
These aspects are relevant in the response of slender walls, which
tude, fracture can occur in less than 100 cycles. This is
also explain the damage observed in walls in Chile earthquake, and
commonly known as low cycle fatigue. Tests by previous research-
therefore should be incorporated in their design.
ers have provided an expression that allows for an estimation of
Tests on slender walls have commonly been carried out provid-
half cycles to failure (2Nf) for specific total strain amplitude (ea-half
ing enough shear strength in order to promote a failure that com-
of the range amplitude). Brown and Kunnath [7] who studied cyclic
bines bending and axial actions named as flexo-compression.
tests under symmetric tension–compression determined that for
Observed damage in walls from test programs show similar char-
25 mm-diameter bar, which is a typical bar diameter for boundary
acteristics as the walls damaged during the 2010 earthquake, such
bars in Chile, the bar life fatigue is given by ea = 0,08(2Nf)0.36, from
as spalling of concrete in the most compressed area, followed by
where, given a 3.5% amplitude strain (assuming a total strain range
buckling of the longitudinal reinforcement and fracture after a
of 7%, as mentioned previously), the number of half cycles that re-
few cycles [8,9]. The tests by Thomsen and Wallace [8] were car-
sults is 10 (i.e., 5 cycles), which is consistent with the number of
ried out in cantilever with a lateral point load at the wall top,
cycles of large magnitude that can be observed in the earthquake
resulting in a shear-span to depth ratio of 3.1, where the response
records. That expression also indicates that in order to avoid low
was controlled by flexure. Shear lateral deformations at the top
cycle fatigue failure for less than 50 cycles, the total strain range
were estimated to be about 10% of the total displacement [10].
should not go over 3%.
An axial load of approximately 0.1fc0 Ag , where fc0 corresponds to
The question that remains then is-how could we observe less
the compressive strength of concrete and Ag the wall cross-section
strain demands in longitudinal reinforcement in order to avoid re-
area, was also applied to the specimens. Four specimens were
bar fracture?, or why was not observed fracture in all cases? One of
tested, two rectangular walls (RW1, RW2) and two T-shaped walls
the important aspects that caused damage in walls is the impossi-
(TW1, TW2). Rectangular walls were 1.22 m long and 0.1 m wide.
bility of the nonlinear or plastic deformation to distribute over a
T-shaped walls also had a 1.22 m long and 0.1 m wide flange, as
height larger than 400–500 mm. That damaged zone is consistent
well. The main difference between TW1 and TW2 was the amount
with the buckled length of the reinforcement. Distribution of dam-
of confinement, tighter and more prolonged over the web bound-
age (or plastic deformation) over a larger zone would reduce the
ary in TW2 [8]. In the tests, although the failure was similar in
curvature demands, and therefore the compressive strain demands
all cases, in the specimens with lower amount of confinement,
for a prescribed wall top displacement. Test results from the liter-
more specifically, those with larger transverse reinforcement spac-
ature (e.g., Thomsen and Wallace [8]) have shown that the plastic
ing, the buckling of longitudinal reinforcement led to damage
hinge could easily be in the range of 0.33lw and 0.5lw for relatively
localized in a narrower section, which covers a section larger than
1338 L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345

the horizontal web reinforcement spacing (Fig. 4a, TW1). On the The figure presents important characteristics regarding design
other hand, in specimens with a tighter spacing of transversal rein- and detailing of walls that need to be considered or at least under-
forcement at wall boundaries, damage spreads over a higher sec- stood, especially when they are non-symmetric. For identical wall
tion (Fig. 4b, TW2). top displacements for 2 different loading directions (e.g., phase I
The confinement effect was also studied in T-shaped (TW) and and II in Fig. 5), the maximum compressive and tensile strain val-
rectangular (RW) wall cross-sections. In both cases, a larger ues at both wall ends are vastly different. When compressing the
amount of confinement resulted in larger displacement capacity. flange (phase I), the longitudinal reinforcement at the web goes
It is important to mention that in this test program, one of the in tension with a neutral axis depth usually within the flange zone.
parameters that were changed to modify the confinement quantity In order to reach relatively large top displacements, and therefore
was the spacing of the transversal reinforcement. Therefore, the large curvatures, large tensile strains are necessary in the web end
larger displacement capacity is not only affected by the confine- (A), and slight compressive strains in the flange end (B). Upon
ment level, but also by the tendency of buckling of the longitudinal reversal (phase II), the narrower section of the web and the rela-
reinforcement. tively large amount of reinforcement in the flange area force the
The cyclic lateral top displacement of the walls also influences neutral axis depth to move away from the web end resulting in
the wall behavior. The asymmetry in the wall cross-section or rein- more damage in concrete under compression (crushing) at the
forcement should be taken in consideration when analyzing the web end (A) compared to the flange end (B). This is consistent with
cyclic response of walls. Fig. 5 shows the strain history for the ex- the experimental evidence in test programs with T-shaped [8] and
treme fibers of a fiber model with material nonlinearity that char- L-shaped walls [9], as well as findings after the 2010 earthquake
acterizes the response of TW2 [8], which have been validated [4]. The response of RW2, which is a symmetric rectangular sec-
against the experimental data [11]. The response of an extreme fi- tion, shows smaller tensile and compressive strain values than
ber for RW2 is also included for selected drift levels. Cycles with the web end (A) of TW2, indicating that under similar confinement
similar fiber strain represent overall cycles with identical wall and bar buckling constrain is more likely to degrade the response
top displacement (commonly 2 full cycles). Upon reversal, the of the T-shaped section for similar drift levels. Tensile strains in
top displacement was set to the same value.

Fig. 4. Damage at 2% drift (nominal) – (a) TW1 and (b) TW2.

A - TW2 I
0.04 B - TW2 A ε ε
RW2 + +
- -
Strain (extreme ends)


+ tension
- compression
II Phase I Phase II
1% 1.5%
Drift Level

Fig. 5. Strain history for extreme fibers (fiber model)-TW2 and RW2.
L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345 1339

RW2 are larger than tensile strains in the flange (B), but with sim- an inelastic component that accounts for the additional curvature
ilar compressive strains. once the ultimate curvature has been reached (/u). The inelastic
Concrete crushing might not be the only concern about the curvature usually increases linearly within the lower portion of
behavior of non-symmetric sections. Large tensile strains in the the wall, starting from the point where yielding is observed in
web end (A) followed (upon reversal) by large compressive strains the boundary longitudinal reinforcement [17,18]. Although the
in the same point can lead to buckling of the reinforcement, mak- curvature tends to increase linearly, simplified models [19] have
ing T-shaped walls (or in general non-symmetric) more prone to characterized the inelastic component as an equivalent rectangular
this type of damage. Moreover, even large tensile strains followed distribution of curvature of length lp, which represents the plastic
by little or no compressive strains can lead to buckling [12–14], as hinge length. Thus, the wall top lateral displacement (du) can be
shown in Fig. 6. Fig. 6 shows the analytical response (plastic hinge determined using Eq. (1), if a triangular distribution of the forces
model [5]-as previously described for L/d = 14) of a bar subjected to is applied along the wall height (hw). For simplicity, the ACI 318
buckling for two different loading histories, but with the same total code adopted a modified version of Eq. (1). Instead of considering
strain variation (6%, Fig. 6a – ranging from 3% to 3%, and Fig. 6b – the elastic and inelastic components, only one component is con-
ranging from 2% to 4%). In both cases, onset of buckling (marked sidered, which accounts for the entire ultimate curvature at the
in the figure) is observed almost immediately upon reversal from wall bottom, locating the plastic hinge length at the wall base
tension. and neglecting the elastic component in the upper section (Eq.
(2), Fig. 7b).
6. Displacement model for detailing  
11 2 lp
du ¼ £y hw þ ð£u  £y Þlp hw  ð1Þ
The current design procedure for wall boundary detailing in ACI 40 2
318-08 [15] is displacement-based [16]. ACI 318-08 uses a simpli- du ¼ £u lp hw ð2Þ
fied compatibility model to determine the maximum compressive
strains in concrete due to wall top displacement, requiring special The simplified formulation assumes that the elastic component of
boundary confinement when the compressive strains are larger the deformation can be indirectly included in the inelastic portion
than 0.003. The procedure assumes a cantilever wall with lateral such that all deformations are concentrated in only one section-
loads either concentrated or distributed over the height of the wall. the plastic hinge. This simplification implies that, given a wall top
Fig. 7 shows a representative wall with a triangular distribution of displacement value, the required curvature depends on the top dis-
lateral loads. The traditional curvature distribution model assumes placement, wall height, and plastic hinge length (Eq. (2)). That is, in
an elastic component until the yield curvature is reached (/y) and Fig. 5, the maximum curvature magnitude should be equal, for

-0.03 to 0.03 -0.02 to 0.04


(a) (b)


Buckling Buckling
No Buckling No Buckling
-0.04 -0.02 0 0.02 0.04 -0.02 0 0.02 0.04
Strain Strain

Fig. 6. Initiation of buckling – (a) 3% to 3% strain range, and (b) 2% to 4% strain range.

δ δ


Fig. 7. Cantilever wall model for boundary detailing (after [16]).

1340 L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345

example, for loading phases I and II, considering that top displace- confinement (Ash/sbc = 0.011, where Ash is the transversal stirrup
ments are identical. Curvature can be estimated from the figure as area in the direction of analysis, s is the stirrup spacing and bc
the difference between the strain values at extreme ends (distance the distance between outer stirrup legs), the specimen with an ax-
between peaks values of A and B-shown in Fig. 5 with vertical ar- ial load of 0.35fc0 Ag reached a drift larger than 1.3% (200 mm) be-
rows) over the length of the wall. As can be seen, in phase I, the cur- fore the initiation of significant degradation. The length of the
vature is about 25% larger than in phase II. That difference is larger confined zone (100 mm) is consistent with a design displacement
with a smaller top displacement and smaller with a larger top dis- of 0.42% drift, according to Eq. (2) ðdu =hw ¼ 0:003 250
: 700
). This assumes
placement. This comes from the fact that the yield curvature, and that the confinement ends at the location with a strain of 0.003
therefore the yield top displacement for T-shaped walls are differ- (100 mm from wall edge), which results in maximum compressive
ent in each direction. The yield curvature tends to be smaller in strain of 0.0042 (0:003 250
 350) for a neutral axis depth of about lw/2
T-shaped walls with flanges in compression [20], resulting in larger and lp = lw/2. This indicates that such expression and the confine-
curvature demands in the nonlinear range when compared to the ment supplied is conservative for small displacement demands. If
same top displacement for the wall with the flange in tension, we consider the initiation of important degradation (200 mm)
where the yield curvature is larger. and assume the same neutral axis depth (reasonable for stable
boundary element) the maximum compressive strain increases to
1.3% (1:3%  350= 700 2
), which is already in the degrading branch of
7. Axial load
the compressive stress vs. strain response of confined concrete.
Failure was, in this case, promoted by out-of-plane buckling.
Damage during the 2010 earthquake in Chile was more com-
The axial load effect can be studied through a simple model, for
mon in modern RC wall buildings, rather than old RC wall struc-
example, the one presented by Eq. (1). Considering that the yield
tures. Older RC buildings were constructed usually past the
curvature can be estimated as 1.5ey/lw (ey = 0.0021 – yield strain,
1950s. Newer structures were usually constructed around year
associated to a nominal yield stress of fy = 420 MPa), and the ulti-
2000, and featured narrow wall thickness (for taller buildings)
mate curvature for unconfined concrete as £u ¼ 0:003 , the lateral
and the presence of discontinuities, which were less common in c
top drift capacity from Eq. (1) becomes, for lp = lw/2,
previously built structures. Considering that almost no building     
had confinement, two main, different aspects arise: (1) axial load
¼ 11
40 lw
hw þ 12 0:003 lcw  1:5ey 1  4hlww , which is dependent
level, and (2) discontinuities. Both can affect the strain distribution on c/lw and hw/lw, where c represents the neutral axis depth and
(e.g., Eqs. (1) and (2)). The treatment of discontinuities is a specific hw/lw the wall aspect ratio. Considering that c is determined by
and difficult task and most design tools are strength-oriented, such equilibrium at the sectional level, the neutral axis depth depends
as strut-and-tie models [23]. For the purpose of this work all anal- on the level of axial load, as well as of other factors such as geom-
ysis of strain distribution are related to axial load. etry, steel quantity and material properties. For a common wall
Few research programs have focused their attention to the axial length of 5 m and a story height of 2.5 m, the drift capacity ratio
load effect in slender walls, especially if we consider loads larger is related to the number of stories (N = hw[m]/2.5) and the c/lw ra-
than 0.2fc0 Ag [21,22]. The work by Zhang and Wang [21] included tio. The drift capacity vs. the number of stories is shown in Fig. 9 for
a test program that compared mid-height (effective height = 1.5 m, c/lw values of 0.1, 0.2, 0.4 and also for yielding (balance condition)
length = 0.7 m) RC and steel reinforced concrete (SRC, partial of the boundary reinforcement with solid lines. Additionally, for
boundary longitudinal reinforcement replaced by steel sections) comparison purposes, a dashed line that allows compressive
walls under cyclic lateral loads. The specimens were tested in can- strains reaching a 0.008 value is considered for c/lw = 0.4.This is
tilever with a point top lateral load and a constant axial load ap- consistent, as explained later, with the new Chilean wall design
plied at the wall top. The RC walls (SW7 and SW8) had similar limitation to compressive strain. In this case, it is assumed that
geometry, reinforcement configuration, and material properties, the concrete is confined in order to reach such values without sig-
except for the boundary reinforcement ratio (SW7: qb = 0.062, nificant degradation. Other values of c/lw are not shown since they
SW8: qb = 0.046) and axial load (SW7: 0.24fc0 Ag , SW8: 0.35fc0 Ag ). reach drift values larger than 2%.
Test results for the overall load (backbone curve) vs. displacement The spectral drift demand can be estimated using the elastic
(at 1.5 m from base) are shown in Fig. 8. The figure shows a larger spectral displacements for any ground record. Considering that
displacement capacity for the specimen with a lower axial load, the interest is focused in relatively tall buildings, the ‘‘equal dis-
although it had a larger amount of longitudinal boundary rein- placement rule’’ is considered to estimate the inelastic displace-
forcement. It is also important to point out that with the prescribed ment, and an amplification factor of 1.3 is used to estimate the


Load (kN)



50 0.005 Damaged
SW8 buildings
San Pedro record
EW dir., 2% damp.
0 0
0 10 20 30 40 5 10 15 20 25 30
Top (@1.5m) displacement (mm) N

Fig. 8. Axial load effect [21]. Fig. 9. Axial load effect in drift capacity.
L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345 1341

displacement demand in a multistory building. Due to the large to the height of the walls. These expressions recover the effect of
stiffness of Chilean buildings, the fundamental period based on un- location of the yielding moment, extending their use to columns
cracked stiffness (element gross area) is estimated as T = hw/70, and walls. Other parametric studies have been carried out that
with hw the height of the building from the ground level in (m). incorporate other variables, such as the axial load [17,18]. The axial
Most buildings have fundamental periods between hw/40 and hw/ load, as mentioned before, changes not only the overall response,
140, according to a collection of analytical models by Calderón [3]. but at the sectional level, it also changes the post-yield stiffness
The fundamental period based on cracked stiffness is estimated of the moment–curvature diagram. The smaller the axial load,
as Tcr = 1.5 T. Thus, the displacement demand that depends of the the larger the post-yield stiffness, given that damage and therefore
period, and therefore of the height, is plot in Fig. 9 as drift demand degradation, is postponed for larger curvature values. A larger po-
vs. number of stories. The San Pedro record [24] in the strongest sitive post-yield stiffness, which results in a larger maximum mo-
horizontal direction (EW), measured at about 5 km south-west of ment, allows for a larger plastic hinge length at the maximum
downtown Concepción, is shown for the analysis for a 2% damping. moment since the yield moment would move upward in a cantile-
As seen in Fig. 9, the larger the axial load, that is larger c/lw, the ver wall. Bohl and Adebar [17] suggest a variation of the plastic
lower the drift capacity. For c/lw = 0.2, the drift capacity is already hinge length that changes with the axial load (P), resulting in
overcome by the drift demand, which occurs for buildings with a lp ¼ ð0:2lw þ 0:05zÞð1  1:5P=fc0 Ag Þ. If we only consider the addi-
number of stories around 15. This analysis is consistent with the tional impact of the axial load, the larger the c/lw value, the smaller
observations since most buildings that presented damage were in the lp value observed, which results in a smaller drift capacity,
the range of 15–20 stories. Besides, that could explain why old accentuating the problem with the axial load. This effect is not in-
building with probably lower quality construction materials pre- cluded since the c/lw value would depend on the axial load, as well
sented good responses. They commonly exhibit a lower axial load, as steel quantity, wall geometry, and material properties, among
associated to low-rise buildings, with the range being usually un- others. If we consider a rectangular symmetric cross-section with-
der 15 stories. If we also consider that modern buildings presented out web reinforcement with normal strength concrete, where all
discontinuities, that would result in strain concentration amplify- boundary reinforcement is yielding, the relationship between the
ing its magnitude, and therefore, reducing the drift capacities. axial load and the neutral axis depth, by force equilibrium, reduces
The previous analysis assumes that the plastic hinge length is to f 0PAg ¼ 0:72 lcw . In this case, a c/lw = 0.4 would reduce the plastic
lp = lw/2. The evidence from the past earthquake indicates that hinge length by about half. If we consider a more common section
the localization of damage as seen in Fig. 1 does not spread as sug- configuration, such as T-shaped wall (flange length similar to web
gested by the common expression due to concentration of damage length) with distributed web reinforcement (qw = 0.0025) with the
within a small section that usually exists between 1 or 2 lines of flange under tension, the axial load normalized over the wall web
the transversal web reinforcement, that is, around 400 mm. The area is reduced only by about 20%. All this indicates that the axial
severity of the damage indicates that at such a stage, degradation load not only reduces the drift capacity by increasing the neutral
of the response is expected, and therefore, that should not be ex- axis depth, but also reduces the ability of the wall to distribute
pected in walls before the degradation has set in. Experimental evi- plasticity over its height.
dence indicates that before degradation, the values for plastic
hinge length are close to 0.5lw [16]. However, those walls had an 8. New reinforced concrete requirements
axial load of about 0.1fc0 Ag , which might not represent what was
observed in Chile, where the axial loads have been estimated to The observed damage from the earthquake as well as informa-
be much higher than 0.1fc0 Ag for tall buildings [1]. tion gathered from acceleration records led the Chilean civil engi-
Based on beam tests, it has become common practice to assume neering community to demand changes to existing standards-the
that the plastic hinge length lp of a concrete wall varies from 0.5 to design of reinforced concrete (NCh430.Of2008, [26]) and the seis-
1.0 times the larger horizontal dimension of the wall (lw). Thus, mic design of buildings (NCh433.Of96, [2]). The changes in this
0.5lw is used as a lower-bound estimate of lp to make a safe esti- seismic design code mainly focused on developing both new de-
mate of the displacement capacity from the curvature capacity. sign displacement spectra and a modified soil classification, which
Sawyer [25] developed an equation for plastic hinge length in were reflected in its replacement, the DS No. 61 [27], which had a
beams. In this work, it was assumed that the ratio of the yield mo- previous version earlier in 2011.
ment to the maximum moment is 0.85 and it was determined that Regarding the modifications of the design standard for rein-
the location of the initiation of longitudinal reinforcement yields at forced concrete, it focused on requirements for an improved
a distance 0.15z from the maximum moment point, where z is the behavior of reinforced concrete walls, whose replacement was
distance from zero moment to the maximum moment. After that, the DS No. 60 [28] (also a modification of an earlier version). The
several expressions have incorporated both parameters: (1) one code uses the ACI 318-08 as the base code and includes modifica-
associated to the length of the walls and (2) another associated tions that focused on special wall design.

0.012 SoilD 1.5

Soil B
(a) (b)
1.3Sd (Tcr)/hw

Soil A
0.008 1

0.004 0.5 SoilD

Soil B
Soil A
0 0
0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Tcr (s) Tcr (s)

Fig. 10. (a) Drift demands, and (b) neutral axis depth limitation for zone 3.
1342 L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345

40 before, for larger axial loads, the plastic hinge reduces which could
be considered in Eq. (1). In both cases, it is assumed that there is a
potential plastic hinge where the inelastic deformations are con-
centrated, and therefore, a special detailing requirement for the
edge of the wall is provided. Considering that by exceeding a com-
0.008 pressive strain of 0.003 in the most compressed fiber in the wall
Stress (MPa)

(ACI 318-08) special detailing (transversal reinforcement) needs

20 to be provided at wall edges, the consideration of compressive
strain limitation of 0.008 seeks to limit the potential damage that
0.003 Confined may occur. This limitation indirectly restricts the axial load level
Unconfined (through the neutral axis depth) in the walls, which is dependent
on the expected demand for the wall displacement. Thus, for build-
ings in seismic zones closer to the hypocenter and in soft soils, the
expected wall top displacement demand will be higher, resulting
0 in larger compressive strains and, thus, it will be more restrictive
0 0.005 0.01 0.015 0.02 with the axial load level. Since the limitation is not strictly on
Strain the axial load, other wall characteristics can be modified (e.g.,
amount of longitudinal reinforcement, yielding of the reinforce-
Fig. 11. Confined and unconfined concrete. ment, and geometry).
In order to study the impact of the damage limitation require-
ment, the neutral axis depth limitation is estimated on the basis
One of the first modifications involves the axial load, limiting of the expected drift demands provided by the DS No. 61 [27].
the maximum axial load to 0.35fc0 Ag for every wall element at The drift demands are estimated for zone 3 (coastal-highest seis-
any location. Considering that this limitation may not be suitable micity) and for the four soil types that provide spectral displace-
for asymmetric sections, which may have premature compression ment (A–D). A fundamental period for an uncracked lower bound
failure, a damage limitation requirement against brittle compres- stiffness of T(s) = hw(m)/50 is selected. The cracked stiffness is esti-
sive failure was adopted. Based on the simple plastic hinge models, mated as Tcr = 1.5 T [27]. Drift demands are plotted in Fig. 10a,
it requires that when slender walls (hw/lw P 3) reach the building which indicates that the maximum drift level yields a value of
design displacement (du), a compression strain in concrete of about 1.1%. The low drift levels are promoted by the large building
0.008 in the extreme most compressed fiber at the critical wall sec- stiffness. Knowledge of the drift demand and the use of Eq. (2) pro-
tion is not exceeded. This strain (ec) can be estimated, derived from vide the limitation to the neutral axis depth for a compressive
Eq. (2), as ec ¼ £u c ¼ h2dwulwc , after assuming that lp = lw/2. Alterna- strain of 0.008, as shown in Fig. 10b. Zone 3 soil D yields the small-
tively, the elastic deformation capacity of the wall can be incorpo- est value (c/lw = 0.37), which is consistent with a low axial load. For
rated to reduce the requirement of inelastic displacement (Eq. (1)). a symmetric rectangular section with yielding boundary reinforce-
The explicit consideration for the plastic hinge length (lp = lw/2) ment and no web reinforcement, it yields an axial load of P/
was only imposed for Eq. (2), since the strain estimates tend to fc0 Ag = 0.27. The axial load reduces considerable in non-symmetric
be conservative (elastic component neglected). As it was exposed sections such as T-shaped walls, yielding values that might be half

(a) (b)

Fig. 12. Onset of buckling – (a) rectangular, and (b) T-shaped cross-section.
L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345 1343

of the symmetric rectangular wall case, when normalized over the concrete, and therefore positive post-yield is expected at the lat-
entire wall cross-section area, since the term Ag would represent eral top drift demand, similarly to the case of unconfined concrete
the web area in that case. Thus, the code captures the less ductility with maximum compressive strain below 0.003. The stress vs.
observed in non-symmetric sections by improving their displace- strain response in compression is shown in Fig. 11 for confined
ment capacity with, for example, lower axial loads. and unconfined concrete, where both the compressive strain limits
Given a prescribed wall top displacement or curvature, a com- are shown (0.003 for unconfined concrete and 0.008 for confined
pressive strain limitation forces larger tensile (commonly) strains concrete).
in the opposite side of the wall, which might induce tensile frac- In cases requiring confinement, the wall thickness must be at
ture of the longitudinal boundary reinforcement. Low amounts of least 300 mm, and the confined length may not be less than the
boundary longitudinal reinforcement and axial load reduces the width of the wall in the confined zone to ensure proper contain-
neutral axis depth favoring the same situation. In Chile, it is com- ment of the transverse reinforcement. In this sense, and also to en-
mon to provide a steel quantity of 5% of the boundary area (0.5% sure good concrete placement and behavior, bar diameter size
over wall area) at each boundary and no less than 3% in most cases limitations are imposed on both the longitudinal reinforcement
for modern buildings over 15 stories [29]. If we consider the ex- (db_long 6 1/9hSBE, with hSBE thickness of the wall at the boundary
treme case of no axial load, for a rectangular section with symmet- element) and the transversal reinforcement (db_transv P 1/3db_long)
ric boundary reinforcement (qb = 3%) and no web reinforcement, at wall boundary elements, as well the vertical (s 6 1/2hSBE) and
where the compressive reinforcement might not be yielding, and horizontal (hx 6 1/2hSBE, 200 mm) separation of supported vertical
for simplicity under zero strain, due to the low neutral axis depth, bars by transversal reinforcement. Additionally, both the stirrups
the neutral axis depth reduces, by equilibrium, to lcw ¼ as cross-ties must have their ends bent at an angle greater than
ð0:03Þð0:1Þðt w Þðfy ¼420 MPaÞ
¼ 0:07, for a boundary length of 0.1lw, wall or equal to 135°.
ð0:85Þðb1 ¼0:85Þðfc0 ¼25 MPaÞðt w Þ
Where confinement is not required, but there is a longitudinal
thickness tw, and a Whitney stress block coefficient b1 = 0.85. From
reinforcement ratio greater than 2.8/fy, and it is expected that this
Fig. 10a, for a maximum drift of 1.1%, Eq. (2) reduces to hdwu ¼ reinforcement might yield, the spacing of the transverse reinforce-
0:011 ¼ £u lp  eclþwes lw
, which together with c
¼ eceþc es ¼ 0:07, yields ment is limited to 6db and 200 mm, with db the diameter of the lon-
to es = 0.02, where es and ec are the extreme tensile and compres- gitudinal reinforcement. This limitation is consistent to the one
sive strains in the wall. A 2% tensile strain is far from causing ten- provided in ACI 318-08; however, here the spacing limitation to
sile fracture of the boundary reinforcement. A stable compressive 6db prevents or delays reinforcement buckling to wall drift levels
boundary element (confinement and buckling restriction might that are expected in stiff shear wall structures in Chile. Thus, for
be required) capable of equilibrating the force from the tensile lon- example, in asymmetrical walls, such as T-shaped wall sections,
gitudinal reinforcement (and axial load) that guarantees a nearly where the compression strain do not exceed 0.003, they are re-
constant plastic hinge length (here assumed as lw/2) and low drift quired to have buckling restriction as these bars do not reach sig-
demands (here assumed no more than 1.1%) will be capable of pre- nificant compression deformation, but they might buckle if they
venting tensile fracture of the reinforcement. Smaller plastic hinge have previously endured large tensile strains. They could even
length (or a hinge that reduces its length with drift) or larger drift buckle while still elongated, that is, under tensile strain, but sub-
demands would result in larger tensile strain values in the longitu- ject to compression stress. In order to quantify the impact of such
dinal reinforcement. Non-symmetric sections would probably limitation, the drift capacities should be estimated based on the
present larger neutral axis depth, reducing even further the tensile initiation of bar buckling, providing a limit state for the buckling
strain. condition.
Another important aspect related to the limitation of damage is Collection of experimental data by Rodriguez et al. [12] for steel
the fact that in order to have the distribution of plasticity along the coupons loaded under cyclic strain history, recalling bars in col-
height of the wall, a positive post-yield stiffness is required. Con- umns and beams under seismic actions, show how the onset of
sidering that concrete in compression should be confined if the buckling is dependent on stirrups spacing (fixed-end condition).
compressive strain is larger than 0.003, low strain values in uncon- The onset of buckling is defined experimentally, by Rodriguez
fined concrete would present just slight degradation of capacity et al., as the point where the instability of the bar was captured
associated with concrete in compression, but exhibit an overall sta- with extensometers place on two sides of the bar, where one of
ble response (e.g., moment–curvature). If we consider the confine- the extensometers presented increase of compression (concave
ment requirements for wall special boundary elements by ACI 318- side of the buckle bar) and the other decrease of compression (con-
08, that is, Ash  0:09bc s fc0 , for normal material properties vex side of the buckle bar). Initiation of buckling was defined at the
point where the difference between both sensors was 20% of the
(fc0 = 25 MPa and fy = 420 MPa), the confinement pressure reduces
compression observed in the concave side. The strain at buckling
Ash fy
to f1 ¼ bc s
 2:25 MPa. Considering the confinement concrete was studied by means of a strain ep* that corresponds to the total
model by Saatioglu and Razvi [30], and a wall length of 5 m under strain from the previous zero stress point until buckling was deter-
an axial load consistent with c/lw = 0.2 (i.e., P/fc0 Ag = 0.14 for a sym- mined. This, for simplicity, can be approximated to be the entire
metric rectangular section with yielding boundary reinforcement) strain between the maximum tensile strain and the subsequent
results in a confined length of 0.63 m (=0.250.005/0.008) for a compressive (or tensile) strain at the onset of buckling. If we con-
maximum compressive strain of 0.008 and confinement over com- sider a rectangular wall cross-section with symmetric reinforce-
pressive strain values of 0.003. The confinement effectiveness is ment under a seismic action from left to right that results in a
determined for confinement reinforcement separated transversally strain profile described in Fig. 12a (direction 1), the extreme fibers
by 200 mm and longitudinally by 150 mm. The unconfined con- would reach strains et and ec at both ends. Upon reversal (direction
crete would present a peak stress at a strain value of about 0.002 2) and considering that the same top displacement is applied, the
in compression and 15% strength degradation at 0.0033. Thus, maximum strains would be the same, but in reverse order, that
the confined concrete would present a peak stress of 33 MPa at a is, ec and et. Thus, each extreme fiber would have reached a maxi-
strain of 0.0053 with 15% strength degradation at a strain of mum strain of et + ec, which is approximately ep* once buckling be-
0.011. This indicates that the limitation of compressive strain of gins. According to Rodriguez et al., for stirrups spacing of s = 6db,
0.008 corresponds to just the initiation of degradation of confined the onset of buckling occurs, in average, at about ep* = 0.04. If we
1344 L.M. Massone / Engineering Structures 56 (2013) 1335–1345

consider Eq. (2) (and lp = lw/2), then hdwu ¼ ecc lw

¼ ðeclþwet Þ lw
¼ 0:02, tension to compression causing instability even before compres-
which indicates that the reinforcement under such transversal sive strains are observed.
constraint results in drift capacity of 2%, which is larger than ex- Where damage was produced by large compressive or tensile
pected in RC shear wall buildings in Chile, according to Fig. 10a. strains that resulted in degrading response (softening post-yield
In an extreme case for nonsymmetrical cross-section (e.g., T wall- response) with localization of damage within a small area, a better
Fig. 12b), where the neutral axis depth for the web in tension falls distribution of strain is expected for a non-degrading response, by
inside the flange, c  lw, if we consider the same situation (conser- providing confinement and/or buckling constraint. The better
strain distribution results in smaller maximum strain values,
vative) when the web is in compression, then hdwu ¼ ecc l2w ¼
ðec þet Þ lw
reducing damage and making less probable the presence of frac-
2lw 2
¼ 0:01. The drift capacity reduces to 0.01, which is ture of longitudinal reinforcement due to low cycle fatigue.
still a considerable drift capacity, and similar to the maximum drift Other limitations were also imposed to improve the concrete
demand expected for zone 3 soil type D for a stiff building. placement and effectiveness of confinement, as well as prevention
Some walls, besides presenting concrete cover spalling and lon- of global buckling. Several analytical and experimental programs
gitudinal bar buckling, showed overall buckling promoted by small have been carried out lately to study, in more detail, aspects such
wall thickness. To emphasize this situation, the code requires a sta- as overall response, effective confinement, effect of discontinuities,
bility analysis for walls with thicknesses below lu/16, with lu among others, by the author and other researchers, which would
unsupported wall height. allow for the checking and improvement of the code provisions.
Failure of splices in longitudinal reinforcement in walls was ob-
served in a few cases. Considering the need to maintain the walls’
integrity as a load transfer mechanism through the longitudinal Acknowledgements
reinforcement, especially in the confined core of the critical
section, when the amount of longitudinal reinforcement exceeds This work is the summary of long discussions within the sub-
2.8/fy or presents an small coating (coverrebar 6 2db,long), a committee for the RC design code committee formed under the
minimum quantity of transversal reinforcement is required Construction Institute (Chile). The author of this publication, coor-
(Atr,min = Abfyls/fytld, with Ab and fyl the longitudinal reinforcement dinator of the subcommittee, would like to thank the contribution
area and yield stress, s and fyt the transversal reinforcement spac- from several persons related to the academia and industry who
ing and yield stress, and ld the longitudinal reinforcement develop- served as members and collaborated by enriching the discussion
ment length) to be able to transmit forces between the overlapped with examples, case studies, and analysis of the new code require-
bars. In this case, it is required that the force capacity by the trans- ments and its impact on Chilean construction. The members, in
versal reinforcement in the overlapped area can at least balance alphabetical order, are: Marcial Baeza, Patricio Bonelli, Leopoldo
the component (parallel to the transversal reinforcement) of the Breschi, Jorge Carvallo, Rodrigo Concha, Luis Díaz, Augusto Holm-
forces transmitted to the concrete (with inclined struts at 45°) berg, Iván Hrepic, Matías Hube, Denis Jequier, Rodrigo Jordán, Mar-
due to the forces in the longitudinal bar in tension. ianne Küpfer, Mario Lafontaine, René Lagos, Alfonso Larraín, Carl
All this code requirements have been used by engineering com- Lüders, Rodrigo Mujica, Miguel Sándor, Hernán Santa María, Edu-
panies during the past few months and they have reported that it ardo Santos, Rodolfo Saragoni, Carlos Sepúlveda, and Rodrigo Vás-
has resulted in a marginal increase of cost in RC shear wall building quez. The author would also thank the wall specimen photos
construction. provided by prof. John Wallace at UCLA.

9. Summary and conclusions References

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