Existing design procedures for determining the separation distance between adjacent buildings subjected to seismic pounding risk are based on approximations of the buildings' peak relative displacement. These procedures are characterized by unknown safety levels and thus are not suitable for use within a performance-based earthquake engineering framework.
This paper introduces an innovative reliability-based methodology for the design of the separation distance between adjacent buildings. The proposed methodology, which is naturally integrated into modern performance-based design procedures, provides the value of the separation distance corresponding to a target probability of pounding during the design life of the buildings. It recasts the inverse reliability problem of the determination of the design separation distance as a zero-finding problem and involves the use of analytical techniques in order to evaluate the statistics of the dynamic response of the buildings. Both uncertainty in the seismic intensity and record-to-record variability are taken into account.
The proposed methodology is applied to several different buildings modeled as linear elastic single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) and multi-degree-of-freedom (MDOF) systems, as well as SDOF nonlinear hysteretic systems. The design separation distances obtained are compared with the corresponding estimates that are based on several response combination rules suggested in the seismic design codes and in the literature. In contrast to current seismic code design procedures, the newly proposed methodology provides consistent safety levels for different building properties and different seismic hazard conditions. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.