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Lessons learned from the “5.12” Wenchuan Earthquake: evaluation of earthquake performance objectives and the importance of seismic conceptual design principles

Wang Yayong

Institute of Earthquake Engineering, China Academy of Building Research, Beijing 100013, China

Abstract: Many different types of buildings were severely damaged or collapsed during the May 12, 2008 Great Wenchuan Earthquake. Based on survey data collected in regions that were subjected to moderate to severe earthquake intensities, a comparison between the observed building damage, and the three earthquake performance objectives and seismic conceptual design principles specified by the national “Code for Seismic Design of Buildings GB50011-2001,” was carried out. Actual damage and predicted damage for a given earthquake level for different types of structures is compared. Discussions on seismic conceptual design principles, with respect to multiple defense lines, strong column-weak beam, link beam of shear walls, ductility detailing of masonry structures, exits and staircases, and nonstructural elements, etc. are carried out. Suggestions for improving the seismic design of structures are also proposed. It is concluded that the seismic performance objectives for three earthquake levels, i.e., “no failure under minor earthquake level, ” “repairable damage under moderate earthquake level” and “no collapse under major earthquake level” can be achieved if seismic design principles are carried out by strictly following the code requirements and ensuring construction quality.

Keywords: Wenchuan Earthquake; building damage;, seismic conceptual design, multiple defense lines

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Copyright© 2009 IEM. Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Vibration. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as described below, without written permission from the Publisher. Copying of articles is not permitted except for personal and internal use, to the extent permitted by national copyright law, or under the terms of a license issued by the National Reproduction Rights Organization of China.