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Project Team:

Keri Ryan, PI

Civil and Environmental Engineering;
Utah State University

Stephen Mahin, Co-PI

Civil and Environmental Engineering; University of California at Berkeley

Deborah Moore-Russo, Co-PI

Learning and Instruction; University at Buffalo

Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering;
University at Buffalo

Lucy Arendt, Co-PI

Management; University of Wisconsin, Green Bay



George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Research (NEESR)

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Project Duration:

October 2007 – September 2011

Tools to Facilitate Widespread Use of Isolation and Protective Systems

Recent earthquakes have shown that even moderate ground shaking can produce large economic losses and major societal disruptions due to the widespread structural, nonstructural and contents damage in code compliant buildings. Seismic isolation, in conjunction with energy dissipation, offers a simple and direct opportunity to control or even eliminate damage by simultaneously reducing deformations and accelerations. This project conducts a strategic assessment of the economic, technical and procedural barriers to the widespread adoption of seismic isolation in the United States.

Innovative conceptual solutions will be developed for reducing construction costs (e.g., more effective placement of isolators and improved architectural detailing) and improving performance of isolation systems (e.g., use of new isolation devices). Coordinated experiments and computations will address behavioral uncertainties related to isolation devices, such as thermal heating, buckling and tensile capacity, geometric scaling, and strain rate effects.

This project will involve shaking table and hybrid tests at the NEES experimental facilities at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University at Buffalo, aimed at understanding ultimate performance limits to examine the propagation of local isolation failures (e.g., bumping against stops, bearing failures, uplift) to the system level response. These tests, including a full-scale, three-dimensional test of an isolated 5-story steel building on the E-Defense shake table in Miki, Hyogo, Japan, will help fill critical knowledge gaps, validate assumptions regarding behavior and modeling, and provid essential proof-of-concept evidence regarding the importance of isolation technology.

This integrated, holistic approach to cost-effectively and reliably limit the adverse impacts of earthquakes is also supportive of emerging trends in construction towards sustainable design. This knowledge will be integrated into a rational performance-based procedure that allows consistent comparison of the performance of alternative isolation and conventional systems in terms of safety, loss of use, and life cycle costs.


Earthquake Simulator Testing at UB-NEES, Fall 2010

NEES Data Repository


Keri L. Ryan, Stephen A. Mahin, Gilberto Mosqueda. "Introduction to NEES TIPS: Tools for Isolation and Protective Systems," 2008 Structures Congress, 18th Analysis and Computation Specialty Conference, 2008.

Morgan, T. A. and Mahin, S. A. "Performance-based Design of Seismic Iisolated Buildings Considering Multiple Performance Objectives," Smart Structures and Systems, v.4, 2008, p. 655.

Troy A. Morgan, Stephen A. Mahin. "Satisfying Drift and Acceleration Criteria with Multi-Stage Friction Pendulum Isolation Systems," ASCE Structures Congress 2008, 18th Analysis and Computation Specialty Conference, 2008.