Full-Scale Cyclic Testing of Low-Ductility Concentrically Braced Frames

Cameron R. Bradley, Larry A. Fahnestock, Eric M. Hines, Joshua G. Sizemore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two full-scale, two-story, low-ductility steel concentrically braced frame (CBF) systems were tested to evaluate failure mechanisms, postelastic frame behavior, reserve capacity, and overall collapse performance. These frames were designed for a moderate seismic region, where reserve capacity is emerging as a parameter that can be employed instead of primary system ductility to economically prevent seismic collapse. One test unit used a split-x bracing configuration and satisfied seismic detailing and proportioning requirements in the AISC Seismic Provisions for an ordinary concentrically braced frame (OCBF) with R=3.25. The other test unit used a chevron CBF configuration with R=3 and included no seismic detailing. Each test unit was subjected to a quasistatic cyclic loading protocol and was cycled to total frame drifts in excess of 3.0%. The split-x OCBF exhibited ductile brace buckling behavior up to 1.5% total frame drift, but possessed little reserve capacity after two weld fractures. The R=3 chevron CBF exhibited brittle brace buckling and subsequently developed several distinct reserve capacity mechanisms. These tests demonstrate overall hysteretic behaviors that are highly dependent on two underlying design parameters: system type and system configuration. OCBF brace local slenderness and connection capacity design requirements are effective for providing ductile brace-buckling behavior. The split-x configuration appears more vulnerable to developing multistory mechanisms that possess limited reserve capacity, but this can be improved with strategically placed, enhanced beam-column connections. The chevron configuration is more prone to single-story mechanisms that possess significant reserve capacity developed through beam and column flexure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04017029
JournalJournal of Structural Engineering (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Buildings
  • Concentrically braced frames
  • Earthquake-resistant design
  • Full-scale testing
  • Low-ductility systems
  • Metal and composite structures
  • Moderate seismic regions
  • Reserve capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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