Short Course on Seismic Design and Analysis of Nonstructural Components

Pavia, 2nd - 6th April 2012


With the development and implementation of performance-based earthquake engineering, harmonization of performance levels between structural and nonstructural components becomes vital. Even if the structural components of a building achieve a continuous or immediate occupancy performance level after a seismic event, failure of architectural, mechanical or electrical components can lower the performance level of the entire building system. This reduction in performance caused by the vulnerability of nonstructural components has been observed during recent earthquakes worldwide. Moreover, nonstructural damage has limited the functionality of critical facilities, such as hospitals following major seismic events. The investment in nonstructural components and building contents is far greater than that of structural components and framing. Therefore, it is not surprising that in many past earthquakes, losses from damage to nonstructural components have exceeded losses from structural damage. Furthermore, the failure of nonstructural components can become a safety hazard or can hamper the safe movement of occupants evacuating or of rescue workers entering buildings. In comparison to structural components and systems, there is relatively limited information on the seismic design of nonstructural components. Basic research work in this area has been sparse, and the available codes and guidelines are usually, for the most parts, based on past experiences, engineering judgment and intuition, rather than on objective experimental and analytical results. Often, design engineers are forced to start almost from square one after each earthquake event: to observe what went wrong and to try to prevent repetitions. This is a consequence of the empirical nature of current seismic regulations and guidelines for nonstructural components.

Objectives of the course

The main objective of this short course is to familiarize Structural Engineers with current knowledge on the seismic design and analysis of nonstructural components. At the end of the course, Structural Engineers should be able to:

  • classify the various types of nonstructural components and understand their performance during recent earthquakes;
  • conduct seismic analysis of nonstructural components by the direct and cascading methods;
  • understand and apply correctly current regulations and guidelines for the seismic design and specifications of nonstructural components in North America and Europe including the seismic qualification requirements for important nonstructural components that have been introduced recently in building codes;
  • conduct seismic qualification of nonstructural components by testing, analysis or experience database according to recent building code requirements;
  • be familiar with the seismic performance and fragility of specific nonstructural components and systems through the review of research case studies.

The course will be taught by Andrè Filiatrault, Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo (UB), State University of New York, and a faculty member at Rose School.

About the instructor

André Filiatrault received a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 1988. After a two-year stay as an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, he joined the Department of Civil Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique of the University of Montreal, where he became a Full Professor in 1997. Professor Filiatrault joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1998 where he was a Professor of Structural Engineering until 2003. Currently, Filiatrault is a Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo (UB), State University of New York. Professor Filiatrault served as the Deputy Director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) from 2003 to 2007 and as Director from 2008 to 2011. His research over the last twenty three years has been centered on the seismic testing, analysis and design of Civil Engineering structures. Professor Filiatrault has been a UME School Faculty since 2003.

Further Information

Further information can be found by following links below:

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