Boundary frame contribution in coupled and uncoupled steel plate shear walls

Meng Wang, Daniel J. Borello, Larry A. Fahnestock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The steel plate shear wall (SPSW) system is a robust option for earthquake resistance due to the strength, stiffness, ductility and energy dissipation that it provides. Although thin infill plates are efficient for resisting lateral loads, boundary frames that are proportioned based on capacity design requirements add significant structural weight that appears to be one of the factors limiting the use of the system in practice. An alternate configuration, the SPSW with coupling (SPSW-WC), was explored recently as an option for increasing architectural flexibility while also improving overall system economy and seismic performance. The SPSW-WC, which extensively employs flexural boundary frame contribution, has shown promise in analytical, numerical and experimental studies, but recent research on uncoupled SPSWs suggests that boundary frame contribution should not be considered for carrying seismic design shear. As a result, in the present study, boundary frame contribution in SPSWs was explored with detailed three-dimensional finite element models, which were validated against large-scale SPSW-WC tests. Six-story systems were considered, and the study matrix included single and double uncoupled SPSWs along with coupled SPSWs that had various degrees of coupling. Variations in design methodology were also explored. The modeling framework was employed to conduct static monotonic and cyclic pushover analyses and dynamic response history analysis. These analyses demonstrate the beneficial effect of coupling in SPSWs and illustrate the need to consider boundary frame contribution in design of coupled SPSWs. In addition, sharing design shear between the infill plate and the boundary frame is more generally shown to not be detrimental if this sharing is done in the design stage based on elastic analysis and the resulting boundary frame provides adequate secondary strength and stiffness following infill plate yielding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2355-2380
Number of pages26
JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • boundary frame contribution
  • degree of coupling (DC)
  • nonlinear analysis
  • seismic response
  • steel plate shear wall with coupling (SPSW-WC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Boundary frame contribution in coupled and uncoupled steel plate shear walls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this