Pretest Nonlinear Finite-Element Modeling and Response Simulation of a Full-Scale 5-Story Reinforced Concrete Building Tested on the NEES-UCSD Shake Table

Hamed Ebrahimian, Rodrigo Astroza, Joel P. Conte*, Tara C. Hutchinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A full-scale five-story reinforced concrete building specimen, outfitted with a variety of nonstructural components and systems (NCSs), was built and tested on the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of California, San Diego (NEES-UCSD) large outdoor shake table in the period March 2011-June 2012. The building specimen was subjected to a sequence of dynamic tests including scaled and unscaled earthquake motions. A detailed three-dimensional nonlinear finite-element (FE) model of the structure was developed and used for pretest response simulations to predict the seismic response of the test specimen and for decision support in defining the seismic test protocol and selecting the instrumentation layout for both the structure and NCSs. This paper introduces the building specimen and the shake table test protocol and describes the techniques used for the nonlinear FE modeling and response simulation. Utilized as blind prediction, the pretest simulation results at different scales (global structural level and local member/section/fiber levels) are compared with their experimental counterparts for seismic input (base excitation) of increasing intensity from serviceability to design levels. The predictive capabilities of the used FE modeling techniques are evaluated and possible sources of discrepancies between the FE predictions and experimental measurements are investigated and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04018009
JournalJournal of Structural Engineering (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project resulted from the collaboration between four academic institutions: the University of California at San Diego, San Diego State University, Howard University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute; the support from four major funding agencies/ organizations: the National Science Foundation, the Englekirk Advisory Board, the Charles Pankow Foundation, and the California Seismic Safety Commission; and the contribution of more than 40 industry partners. Additional details may be found at Through the National Science Foundation’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Research (NSF-NEESR) program, a portion of the funding was provided by grant number CMMI-0936505 with Dr. Joy Pauschke as Program Manager. The aforementioned financial support is gratefully acknowledged. Support of graduate students Consuelo Aranda, Michelle Chen, Giovanni De Francesco, Elias Espino, Steve Mintz (deceased), Elide Pantoli, and Xiang Wang, and the NEES@UCSD and NEES@UCLA staff as well as the consulting contributions of Robert Bachman, chair of the project’s Engineering Regulatory Committee, are greatly appreciated. Design of the test building was led by Englekirk Structural Engineers, and the efforts of Dr. Robert Englekirk and Mahmoud Faghihi are gratefully acknowledged. The authors also wish to thank Dr. Gerd-Jan Schreppers, Director of TNO DIANA BV, for his technical support regarding the DIANA finite-element modeling and simulation platform. Opinions and findings in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers.


  • Analysis and computation
  • Blind prediction
  • Building structure
  • Finite element method
  • Full-scale specimen
  • Nonlinear response simulation
  • Nonlinear time history analysis
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Shake table test


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