• controlled rocking steel frames;
  • self-centring systems;
  • higher mode effects;
  • multiple force-limiting mechanisms;
  • capacity design;
  • shake table testing


Controlled rocking steel frames have been proposed as an efficient way to avoid the structural damage and residual deformations that are expected in conventional seismic force resisting systems. Although the base rocking response is intended to limit the force demands, higher mode effects can amplify member design forces, reducing the viability of the system. This paper suggests that seismic forces may be limited more effectively by providing multiple force-limiting mechanisms. Two techniques are proposed: detailing one or more rocking joints above the base rocking joint and providing a self-centring energy dissipative (SCED) brace at one or more levels. These concepts are applied to the design of an eight-storey prototype structure and a shake table model at 30% scale. A simple numerical model that was used as a design tool is in good agreement with frequency characterization and low-amplitude seismic tests of the shake table model, particularly when multiple force-limiting mechanisms are active. These results suggest that the proposed mechanisms can enable better capacity design by reducing the variability of peak seismic force demands without causing excessive displacements. Similar results are expected for other systems that rely on a single location of concentrated nonlinearity to limit peak seismic loads. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.