University of California San Diego, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, HUD

Earthquake and fire performance of a mid-rise cold formed steel (CFS) framed building

A substantial growth in the use of cold-formed steel framed construction has recently been observed in high seismic regions of the western United States.  Structural systems of this kind consist of light-gauge framing members (e.g., studs, tracks, joists) attached with sheathing materials (e.g., wood, sheet steel. While these lightweight systems provide the potential to support the need for resilient and sustainable housing, the state of understanding regarding their structural behavior in response to earthquakes remains relatively limited.

To better understand the performance of this type of construction, the SSC partnered with the University of California, San Diego, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and more than fifteen industry partners.

The centerpiece of this project involved full-scale earthquake and fire testing of a full six story CFS wall braced building.  The test building was constructed on the world’s largest outdoor shake table—the Large High Performance Outdoor Shake Table at UC San Diego.

Earthquake motions were scaled to represent different levels of shaking on the test building.  Subsequently, live fire tests were conducted on the earthquake-damaged building at two select floors.

Data gathered from this project will eventually be incorporated into building codes that will help ensure that buildings using this type of structural system will better survive earthquakes and hopefully help speed economic recovery.

This project was completed in the spring of 2017.  Some of the project videos appear below, this is a link to additional video resources..