Determination of structural irregularity limits

Mass irregularity example

  • Vinod K. Sadashiva University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Gregory A. MacRae University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Bruce L. Deam University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


Structures may be irregular due to non-uniform distributions of mass, stiffness, strength or due to their structural form. For regular structures, simple analysis techniques such as the Equivalent Static Method, have been calibrated against advanced analysis methods, such as the Inelastic Dynamic Time-History Analysis. Most worldwide codes allow simple analysis techniques to be used only for structures which satisfy regularity limits. Currently, such limits are based on engineering judgement and lack proper calibration. This paper describes a simple and efficient method for quantifying irregularity limits. The method is illustrated on 3, 5, 9 and 15 storey models of shear-type structures, assumed to be located in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. They were designed in accordance with the Equivalent Static Method of NZS 1170.5. Regular structures were defined to have constant mass at every floor level and were either designed to produce constant interstorey drift ratio at all the floors simultaneously or to have a uniform stiffness distribution over their height. Design structural ductility factors of 1, 2, 4 and 6, and target (design) interstorey drift ratios ranging between 0.5% and 3% were used in this study. Inelastic dynamic time-history analysis was carried out by subjecting these structures to a suite of code design level earthquake records. Irregular structures were created with floor masses of magnitude 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 and 5 times the regular floor mass. These increased masses were considered separately at the first floor level, mid-height and at the roof. The irregular structures were designed for the same drifts as the regular structures.

The effect of increased mass at the top or bottom of the structure tended to increase the median peak drift demands compared to regular structures for the record suite considered. When the increased mass was present at the mid-height, the structures generally tended to produce lesser drift demands than the corresponding regular structures. A simple equation was developed to estimate the increase in interstorey drift due to mass irregularity. This can be used to set irregularity limits.


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How to Cite
Sadashiva, V. K., MacRae, G. A., & Deam, B. L. (2009). Determination of structural irregularity limits. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 42(4), 288-301.

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