Postprint version. Published in 2013 Structure Congress Proceedings: Pittsburg, PA, May 3, 2013.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/9780784412848.199.
The seismic behavior of large low-rise buildings with rigid walls and flexible diaphragms will be dominated more by the diaphragm’s seismic response than by the very stiff vertical walls. For practitioners, estimating the stiffness of large flexible diaphragms is important for computing building setbacks from property lines and adjacent structures as well as evaluating structural integrity under seismic loads. In addition, researchers attempting to accurately model a building’s dynamic behavior need to assemble an accurate diaphragm stiffness prediction. The traditional diaphragm chord model consists of a single continuous line of axial resistance at the diaphragm boundaries; however, as this paper will demonstrate a collective series of structural members distributed across the diaphragm will function intentionally or unintentionally as a collective chord, adding significant flexural stiffness and reducing chord forces. In seismically active areas, masonry and concrete wall anchorage forces utilize code-mandated continuous cross-ties within the diaphragm, and often these cross-ties are sufficiently strong and stiff to unintentionally develop collective chord behavior whether in steel or in wood diaphragm systems. While neglecting this embedded collective chord behavior results in conservative chord and diaphragm drift designs, researchers or practitioners trying to predict seismic response of these buildings will potentially underestimate the true seismic response.
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