American Society of Civil Engineers

Dynamic Testing of a Masonry Structure on a Passive Isolation System

by Lisa A. Wipplinger, P.E., M.ASCE, (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civ. and Mech. Engrg., United States Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996. E-mail:

Journal of Architectural Engineering, Vol. 10, No. 1, March 2004, pp. 15-21, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Errata:(See full record)
Abstract: Lightly reinforced and unreinforced masonry buildings have not performed well in earthquakes. Evaluation of past performance of masonry structures has led to more stringent design and construction requirements in the current building codes, and has raised concerns about the performance of existing lightly reinforced and unreinforced masonry buildings in future earthquakes. Base isolation has been shown to be effective in reducing damage to large building structures, and appears to be particularly effective in protecting stiff masonry structures. Using the base isolation principle, Kansas State University’s stiffness decoupler for the base isolation of structures (SDBIS) was designed to effectively reduce the acceleration and force transferred into a building superstructure during a seismic event. The sliding system uses a passive method to provide damping and to dissipate some of the kinetic energy to reduce relative displacements. In addition, the SDBIS system includes a self-centering element that will recover the majority of the induced displacement and provide resistance to overturning. In order to apply the SDBIS system to the masonry building industry, dynamic testes were performed to evaluate the structural response of a full-size one-story masonry model that was supported by the SDBIS system. Acceleration time-history results are presented for dynamic tests using the July 21, 1952 Kern County earthquake, Station 1095 Taft Lincoln School record, the May 19, 1940 Imperial Valley earthquake, Station 117 El Centro Array #9 record, the February 9, 1971 San Fernando earthquake, Station 279 Pacoima Dam record, and the January 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake, Station 24436 Tarzana Cedar Hill record ground motions. Test results show the system is effective when used with a masonry structure.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Base isolation
Dynamic tests
Passive control