A new direct performance-based design method utilizing design tools called performance-spectra (P-Spectra) for low-rise to medium-rise frame structures incorporating supplemental damping devices is presented. P-Spectra are graphic tools that relate the responses of nonlinear SDOF systems with supplemental dampers to various damping parameters and dynamic system properties that structural designers can control. These tools integrate multiple response quantities that are important to the performance of a structure into a single compact graphical format to facilitate direct comparison of different potential solutions that satisfy a set of predetermined performance objectives under various levels of seismic hazard. An SDOF to MDOF transformation procedure that defines the required supplemental damping properties for the MDOF structure to achieve the response defined by the target SDOF system is also presented for hysteretic, linear viscous and viscoelastic damping devices. Using nonlinear time-history analyses of idealized shear structures, the accuracy of the transformation procedure is verified. A seismic performance upgrade design example is presented to demonstrate the usefulness of the proposed method for achieving design performance goals using supplemental damping devices. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.