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Wind and Earthquake Resistant Buildings


Engineers have learned from building occupants and owners, and from wind tunnel studies,
that designing a tall building to meet a given drift limit under code-specied equivalent
static loads is not enough to make occupants comfortable during windstorms. However, they
have only limited control over three intrinsic factors, namely, the height, the shape, and the
mass, that inuence the dynamic response of buildings. Additionally, the behavior of a tall
building subjected to dynamic loads such as wind or seismic activity is difcult to predict

Special Topics

Figure 8.29.


Structural steel unit quantities.


Wind and Earthquake Resistant Buildings

with any accuracy because of the uncertainty associated with the evaluation of a buildings
damping and stiffness, as well as the complicated nature of loading.
The present state of the art is such that an estimate of structural damping can be
made with a plus or minus accuracy of only 30% until the building is constructed and the
nonstructural elements are fully installed. It is well-known that wind-induced building
response is inversely proportional to the square root of total damping, consisting of
aerodynamic plus structural damping. So, if damping is quadrupled (increased by four
times), a 50% response reduction is achieved, and if damping is doubled, the dynamic
response is reduced by 29%. Because of the inherent damping of a building responding
elastically to wind loads in the range of 0.5 to 1.5% of the critical response, it is impractical
to increase the damping to, say, four times as much by use of modied structural materials.
Suppression of excessive vibrations can be dealt with limited success in a variety of
ways. Additional stiffness can be provided to reduce the vibration period of a building to a
less sensitive range. Changes in mass of a building can be effective in reducing excessive
wind-induced excitation. Aerodynamic modications to the buildings shape, if agreeable to
the buildings owner and architect, can result in reduced vibrations caused by wind. However,
these traditional methods can be implemented only up to a point beyond which the solutions
may become unworkable because of other design constraints such as cost, space, or aesthetics.
Therefore, to achieve reduction in response, a practical solution is to supplement the damping
of the structure with a mechanical damping system external to the buildings structure.


Passive Viscoelastic Dampers

Figure 8.30a shows schematics of a viscoelastic polymer damper. An early example of

application of this type of damper is the World Trade Center Towers, conceived in the
1960s, constructed in the early seventies, and destroyed by terrorists on September 11,
2001. These buildings were designed with viscoelastic dampers distributed at approximately 10,000 locations in each building. The dampers extended between the lower chords
of the oor joists and gusset plates mounted on the exterior columns beneath the stiffened
seats (Fig. 8.28).
Viscoelastic dampers dissipate energy through deformation of polymers sandwiched
between relatively stationary steel plates. Their energy dissipation depends on both relative
shear deformation of the polymer and relative velocity within the device. The device is
typically used to reduce occupants perception of wind-induced motions. It does not require
constant operational monitoring and is not dependent on electric power.
The Columbia Searst Center, a 76-story building in Seattle built in 1984, is another
example of using this technology to reduce occupant perception of wind-induced building
motion. The dampers used in this building consist of steel plates coated with a polymer
compound. The plates are sandwiched between a system of relatively stationary plates.
As the building sways under the action of wind loads, the steel plates which are attached
to structural members are subjected alternately to compression and tension. In turn, the
viscoelastic polymer subjected to shearing deformations absorbs and dissipates much of
the strain energy into heat, thus reducing wind-induced motions.


Tuned Mass Damper

A typical application of a tuned mass damper (TMD) consists of a heavy mass installed
near a buildings top in such a way that it tends to remain still while the building moves
beneath it. This strategy allows the mass at top to transmit its inertial force to the building

Special Topics


Figure 8.30a. Viscoelastic polymer damper. A building damping of about 4% can be attained
using these dampers. Buildings equipped with viscoelastic dampers include the World Trade Center,
New York, destroyed on Sept 11, 2001, and the Columbia Searst Center, Seattle.

in a direction opposite to the motions of the building itself, thereby reducing the buildings
The mass itself need weigh only a small fraction0.25 to 0.70%of the buildings
total weight, which corresponds to about 1 to 2% of rst modal mass. Tuned simply
means the mass can be adjusted to move in a fundamental period equal to the buildings
natural period so that it will be more effective in counteracting the building oscillations.
In addition to the initial tuning when it is rst installed, the TMD may be ne-tuned as
the building period changes with time. The period may increase as the building occupancy
changes, as nonstructural partitions are added, or as elements contributing nonstructural
stiffness loosen-up after initial wind storms.
Thus a TMD may be considered as a small damped mass of single-degree-of-system
riding piggy-back atop a building. Although its mass is a small fraction of the buildings
mass, its vibration characteristics are adjusted to mimic those of the buildings. For
example, if a tall building sways, say, 24 in. to the right at a fundamental frequency of
0.16 Hz, the TMD is designed to move to the left at the same frequency.
The idea of using the inertia of a oating mass to tame the sway of a tall building
is not entirely new. In fact, the invention of the TMD as an energy-dissipative vibration
absorber is credited to Frahm, who developed the concept in 1909. The theory was later
described by Den Hertog in his classic textbook in 1956, and since then has been applied
in automotive and aircraft engines to reduce vibrations. Since the wind forcetime relationship is not harmonic (sinusoidal), the basic ideas developed by Den Hartog have been
modied in building applications to account for the random nature of wind.
When activated during windstorms, the TMD becomes free-oating by rising on a
nearly frictionless lm of oil. To dissipate energy, the TMD must be allowed to move with
respect to the building. In the earlier TMDs installed in tall buildings, spring-like devices
connecting the mass to the building pull the building back to center, as the building sways
away from its equilibrium position. The mass is also connected to the building with a
damping device, in the form of a hydraulic actuator, which is controlled to provide a
predetermined percentage of critical damping. This limits the lateral displacements of the
mass relative to the building.
The TMDs advantages become academic in a power failure. It needs electricity to
work and if thats lost in a heavy windstorm, when the TMD would most be needed, it
wouldnt work. So it is advisable to have the TMD wired to an emergency power system.
During a major wind storm, the mass will move in relation to the building some 2
to 5 ft. The system is controlled to activate when a predetermined building lateral acceleration occurs. This motion is registered on an accelerometer and, if the allowable limit
is reached, the mass is activated automatically.


Wind and Earthquake Resistant Buildings

Figure 8.30b. Tuned mass damper for Citicorp Tower, New York: (1) building elevation; (2)
plan; (3) rst-mode response; (4) TMD atop the building. Citicorp Tower, New York

The Citicorp Tower (shown in schematic view in Fig. 8.30b) consists of a unique structural
system of perimeter-braced tubes elevated on four 112-ft-high columns and a central core.
It rises approximately 914 ft above grade. The tower is square in cross section with plan
dimensions of approximately 157 by 157 ft. The top 140-ft portion of the tower slopes
downward from north to south.
The TMD designed for the building consists of a concrete block 29 29 9 ft that
weighs 410 tons (820 kips). It is attached to the buiding with two nitrogen-charged
pneumatic spring devices and two hydraulic actuators that are controlled to provide
damping to the TMD and linearize the springs. One set counters northsouth building
dynamic motion and the other set counters eastwest motion. The spring stiffness, and
thereby the TMD frequency, is adjusted (tuned) by changing the pneumatic pressure. It
also has an antiyaw device to prevent twisting of the block, and snubbers to prevent
excessive motion of the block.
The TMD is capable of a 45-in. operating stroke in each orthogonal direction. The
operating period is adjustable independently in each axis. The mass block is supported
with twelve 22-in.-diameter pressure-balanced bearings connected to a hydraulic pump.
The block positioned at the buildings 63rd oor (780 ft high) represents approximately 2% of rst-period modal mass of the building. The motions of the block are
controlled by pneumatic devices and servohydraulics resulting in a system that has the
characteristics of a spring-mass-damper system, as shown schematically in Fig. 8.30c.
To dissipate energy, the TMD is allowed to move with respect to the building. It is
continuously on standby, and is designed to start up automatically whenever the accelerations exceeds a predetermined value. The TMD kicks in whenever the accelerations for
two successive cycles of building motion exceed 3 milli-g (1 milli-g = 1/1000 of acceleration due to gravity. Therefore, 3 milli-g corresponds to an acceleration of approximately
1.16 in./sec2).
The system continues to operate as long as building motions continue and stops
only a half-hour after the last pair of building cycles for which maximum acceleration is

Special Topics


Figure 8.30c. Schematic view of a TMD operating on top of the Citicorp Center. The TMD
consists of a 400-ton concrete block bearing on a thin lm of oil. The structural stiffness of the
TMD is aided by pneumatic springs tuned to the frequency of the building. The TMD damping
system is aided by shock absorbers.

greater than 0.75 milli-g. The TMD provides the building with an effective structural
damping of about 4% of critical. This is a signicant increase above the inherent damping
estimated to be just under 1% of critical. Since wind-induced accelerations of a building
are approximately proportional to the inverse of the square root of the damping, when in
operation the TMD reduces the building sway oscillations by over 40%.
The Citicorp TMD is installed on the 63rd oor. At this elevation, the building may
be represented by a single-degree-of-freedom system with a modal mass of 40,000 kips
resonating biaxially at a 6.8-sec period with a critical damping factor of 1%. The TMD
is designed with a moving mass of 820 kips, biaxially resonant with a period of 6.7 seconds
plus or minus 20%, and an adjustable damping of 8 to 14% of critical. Observe that the
moving mass represents approximately 2% of the rst-period modal mass, which typically
corresponds to about 0.6 to 0.7% of the total mass. John Hancock Tower, Boston, MA
The TMD for the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co.s glass-clad landmark in Boston
is somewhat different from that for Citicorp Tower. It was added as an afterthought to
prevent occupant discomfort. Second, Hancock Tower is rectangular in plan and consists
of moment frames unlike Citicorps diagonally braced frame (Fig. 8.30d). Because of the
buildings shape, location, and vibration properties, its dynamic wind response is mainly
in the eastwest direction and in torsion about its vertical axis. There is a TMD near each
end of an upper oor. They are tuned to a vibration period of approximately 7.5 sec. The
total eastwest moving mass represents about 1.4% of the building rst-mode generalized
mass, while in the twist direction the moving masses represents about 2.1% of the buildings


Wind and Earthquake Resistant Buildings

Figure 8.30d. Dual TMD system: John Hancock Tower Boston, MA. Two 60,000-pound masses
at each end of the building reduce expected motion by 50%. Effective damping is increased from
about 1% to 4%.

generalized torsional inertia. The dampers, then, move only in an east-west direction and
work together to resist sway motions in the short direction, or in opposition to stabilize
torsional rotations of the building. They are located 220 ft apart, and when moving in
opposition act in effect as a 220-ft lever arm to resist twisting. Hancocks dampers each
have a 300-ton mass consisting of lead blocks contained in a steel coffer box. They also
activate at 3 milli-g of acceleration. In operation the masses may move up to six feet with
an operating cycle of about 7.5 sec. Each mass block is supported on sixteen 22-in.diameter pressure-balanced bearings connected to a hydraulic pump.
The TMDs in both of these towers are used only to assure occupants comfort. Their
benecial effects in reducing wind-induced dynamic forces are not relied upon for structural integrity under extreme wind loads.
Both the John Hancock Tower and Citicorp Tower TMDs are called passive-powered
because, although the reduction in the buildings sway response comes from the inertial force
of the dampers, initially power is required to activate the masses. The sliding masses installed
in these towers cannot move until their oil bearings are pressurized to levitate the masses. Design Considerations for the TMD
There are a number of practical considerations in the design of the TMD. One of these is
the need to limit the motions of the TMD mass under very high wind loading such as will
occur in the design storm or under ultimate load conditions. One way of doing this is to
use a nonlinear hydraulic damper in the TMD. By employing such a damper, the motions
of the TMD mass can be greatly reduced under very high wind loading conditions or
under strong seismic excitation. A further safeguard against excessive TMD motion is to
install hydraulic buffers around the mass. When the mass comes into contact with the
buffers, high velocities are quickly reduced.
Both the Citicorp and John Hancock TMD systems have sensors and feedback and
electronic control systems, but these were designed to make the TMD operate like a passive
tuned mass damper. Tuned mass dampers can in principle be readily converted to be an
active system by incorporating sensors and feedback systems that can drive the TMD mass
to produce more effective damping than is possible in a purely passive mode. As a result,
a larger effective damping can be obtained from a given mass. This approach has been
used in several commercially available ready-to-install systems. The TMD is thus made
more efcient, a benet to be weighed against the increased cost, complexity, and maintenance requirements that are entailed with an active system.

Special Topics



Sloshing Water Damper

A simple sloshing type of damper consists of a tuned rectangular tank lled to a certain
level with water. The tuning of the system consists of matching the tanks natural period
of wave oscillation to the buildings period by appropriate geometric design of the tank.
If obstacles such as screens and bafes are placed in the tank, dissipation of the waves
takes place when water sloshes across these obstructions resulting in a behavior similar
to that of a TMD, and the result is again that the tank behaves as a TMD. However, analysis
indicates that a sloshing water tank does not make as efcient use of the water mass as a
tuned liquid column damper.


Tuned Liquid Column Damper

A tuned liquid column damper (TLCD) is in many ways similar to a TMD that uses a
heavy concrete block or steel as the tuned mass. The difference is that the mass is now
water or some other liquid. The damper is essentially a tank in the shape of a U. It has
two vertical columns connected by a horizontal passage and lled up to a certain level
with water or other liquid. Within the horizontal passage, screens or a partially closed
sluice gate are installed to obstruct ow of water, thus dissipating energy due to motion
of water. The TLCD is mounted near the top of a building, and when the building moves,
the inertia of the water causes the water to oscillate into and out of the columns, travelling
in the passage between them. The columns of water have their own natural period of
oscillation which is determined purely by the geometry of the tank. If this natural period
is close to that of the buildings period then the water motions become substantial. Thus
the buildings kinetic energy is transferred to the water. However, as the water moves past
the screens or partially open sluice gate in the horizontal portion of the tank, the drag of
these obstacles to the ow dissipates the energy of the motion. The end result is added
damping to reduce building ocillations. Wall Center, Vancouver, British Columbia
Shown in Fig. 8.30e is the plan for the mechanical penthouse of a building called Wall
Center, a 48-story residential tower in Vancouver, British Columbia. From wind-tunnel
tests, predicted 10-year accelerations were in the range of 40-milli-g, depending on the
structural systems considered in the preliminary design. To minimize occupants perception of motion due to wind excitations, a limit of 15 milli-g was chosen as the design
criterion for a 10-year acceleration. A damper using water serves a dual purpose by also
providing a large supply of water high up in the tower for re suppression. Initially, a
sloshing water damper was considered but the TLCD was found preferable due to its
greater efciency in using the available water mass. The design turned out to be a
remarkably economical solution considering the saved cost of having to install a highcapacity water pump and emergency generator in the base of the building as initially
required by re ofcials. The total mass required was on the order of 600 tons which
corresponds to a large volume of water. However, sufcient space was available. Also a
helpful factor was that the motions of the tower were primarily in one direction only.
Therefore only motions in one direction needed to be damped, which simplied the design.
Figure 8.30f illustrates the TLCD design consisting of two identical U-shaped concrete
tanks. Since the building was concrete, it was relatively easy to incorporate the tanks into
the design and to construct them as a simple addition to the main structure. The structural
design is by Glotman Simpson Engineers, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The


Wind and Earthquake Resistant Buildings

Figure 8.30e. Mechanical penthouse cross section of the Wall Center, a 48-story building in
Vancouver, British Columbia. Two specially shaped tanks containing 50,000 gallons of water provide
the mass for the buildings TLCD. Structural engineering by Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers,
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; TLCD by Rowan, Williams, Davies, & Irwin, Inc., and Motion
Engineering, Inc., Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

design of the TCLD is by Rowan, Williams, Davis, and Irwin, Inc., Guelph, Ontario,
Canada. Highcliff Apartment Building, Hong Kong
Another example of a tall building that uses TLMD to control accelerations and provide
enhanced structural performance during typhoon conditions, is the 73-story Highcliff
apartment building in Hong Kong, one of the windiest places on earth. The building soars
to a height of 705 ft (215 m) with an astonishing slenderness ratio of 20:1. A unique

450 (Typ.)

Solid fill.
Dimensions tied after
building frequency is known.
Both sides.

4000 (Typ.)
Water level (nom.)


Water level (nom.)





Removable sections.
Dimensions tied after
building frequency
is known.
Both sides.

Figure 8.30f. TLCD for Wall Center, Vancouver, British Columbia. The motions of the tower
were primarily in one direction only. Therefore only one direction needed to be damped. Two TLCDs
extend nearly the full width of the tower. Within each tank is a long horizontal chamber at the
bottom and two columns of water at each end. The dampers work by allowing the water to move
back and forth along the bottom chamber of the tank and up into the columns of water.

Special Topics

Figure 8.30g.


Highcliff apartment building, Hong Kong.

structural system that incorporates all vertical elements as part of the lateral system, in
combination with a series of tuned liquid mass dampers, ensures the safety and comfort
of the buildings occupants.
Photographs of the building are shown in Fig. 8.30g. The structural engineering is
by the Seattle rm of Magnusson Klemencie Associates.

Simple Pendulum Damper

The principle feature of the system shown in Fig. 8.30h is a mass block slung from cables
with adjustable lengths. The mass typically represents approximately 1.5 to 2% of the
buildings generalized mass in the rst mode of vibration. The mass is connected to hydraulic
dampers that dissipate energy while reducing the swinging motions of the pendulum.
The adjustable frame is used as a tuning device to tailor the natural period of vibration
of the pendulum. The frame can be moved up and down and clamped on the cables to
allow the natural period of the pendulum to be adjusted. The mass is connected to an
antiyaw device to prevent rotations about a vertical axis. Below the mass there is a bumper
ring connected to hydraulic buffers to prevent travel beyond the hydraulic cylinders stroke


Wind and Earthquake Resistant Buildings

Figure 8.30h. (1) Simple pendulum damper; (2) Hydraulic dampers attached to mass block. (Photograph courtesy of Dr. Peter Irwin of Rowan, Williams, Davis, & Irwin, Inc., Guelph, Ontario, Canada.) Taipei Financial Center

An example of a tuned mass pendulum damper (TMPD) architecturally expressed as a
building feature is shown in Fig. 8.30i. At a height of 1667 feet (508 m), consisting of 101
stories, the building, called Taipei Financial Center, is poised to steal the crown from the
twin Malaysian Petronas Towers as the tallest building in the world. A special space has

Figure 8.30i. Spherical damper, Taipei Financial Center, Taiwan. A 20-ft (6-m)-diameter steel
ball assembled on site in layers of 5-in. (12-cm)-thick steel plate is suspended from level 92 by
four sets of cables. Eight hydraulic pistons, each 6.5 ft (2 m) long, attached to the ball, dissipate
dynamic energy as heat.

Special Topics

Figure 8.30j.


(1) Simple pendulum damper; (2) nested pendulum damper.

been allocated for the TMPD near the top of the building and people will be able to walk
around it and view it from a variety of angles. The TMPD, consisting of a 730-ton steel ball,
will be brightly colored, and special lighting effects are planned. The architecture of the
building is by C.Y. Lee and Partners, Taiwan; structural engineering is by Evergreen Consulting Engineering, Inc., Taipei, Taiwan, and Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers, New York; and
the design of the TMPD is by Motioneering, Inc., a company in Ontario, Canada, that
specializes in designing and supplying damping systems for dynamically sensitive structures.

Nested Pendulum Damper

In situations where the height available in a building is insufcient to allow installation of

a simple pendulum system, a nested TMD may be designed as illustrated in Fig. 8.30j. The
design shown is for a North American residential tower. The total vertical space occupied
by the damper, which has a natural period of about 6 sec and a mass of 600 tons, is less
than 25 ft (7.62 m), as compared to 30 ft (9.14 m) required for a simple pendulum. The
design of the damper is by Rowan, Williams, Davis, and Irwin, Inc., Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
A nested pendulum damper is installed at the top of the 70-story, 971-ft-tall Landmark Tower, Yokohama, Japan. The damper requires only a one-story-high space, and is
semi-actively controlled. Wind-induced lateral accelerations are expected to be reduced at
least 60%. The damper design is by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan.