• seismic isolation;
  • inelastic behaviour;
  • RC frames;
  • nonlinear response-time history analysis


A comprehensive parametric study on the inelastic seismic response of seismically isolated RC frame buildings, designed for gravity loads only, is presented. Four building prototypes, with 23 m × 10 m floor plan dimensions and number of storeys ranging from 2 to 8, are considered. All the buildings present internal resistant frames in one direction only, identified as the strong direction of the building. In the orthogonal weak direction, the buildings present outer resistant frames only, with infilled masonry panels. This structural configuration is typical of many existing RC buildings, realized in Italy and other European countries in the 60s and 70s. The parametric study is based on the results of extensive nonlinear response-time history analyses of 2-DOF systems, using a set of seven artificial and natural seismic ground motions. In the parametric study, buildings with strength ratio (Fy/W) ranging from 0.03 to 0.15 and post-yield stiffness ratio ranging from 0% to 6% are examined. Three different types of isolation systems are considered, that is, high damping rubber bearings, lead rubber bearings and friction pendulum bearings. The isolation systems have been designed accepting the occurrence of plastic hinges in the superstructure during the design earthquake. The nonlinear response-time history analyses results show that structures with seismic isolation experience fewer inelastic cycles compared with fixed-base structures. As a consequence, although limited plastic deformations can be accepted, the collapse limit state of seismically isolated structures should be based on the lateral capacity of the superstructure without significant reliance on its inherent hysteretic damping or ductility capacity. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.