Good Vibrations

by Brian Breukelman, P.E., (M.ASCE), General Mgr.; Motioneering, Inc., Guelph, Ontario,
Trevor Haskett, Sr. Tech. Coordinator; Motioneering, Inc., Guelph, Ontario,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 12, Pg. 54-59

Document Type: Feature article


As advances in material technology and structural efficiency find reflection in structures that are lighter, more slender, and more daring architecturally, design teams must focus more than ever on controlling vibration to ensure safe, comfortable conditions. Damping systems are gaining popularity as a means of controlling the vibrations of civil structures by improving the structures' ability to dissipate dynamic energy. Four projects where damping systems have been, or are being, implemented are the Bellagio bridges, in Las Vegas; One Wall Centre, in Vancouver; the Trump World Tower, in New York City; and Taipei Financial Center, in Taipei, Taiwan. In the latter building, the design team turned the 730 ton (660 Mg) tuned mass damper into a sculptural/architectural component, a sphere suspended by flexible steel cables that will be surrounded by three levels of restaurants, bars, and observation decks. One may produce a semiactive damper by making one of the parameters of a passive system active�by controlling a tuned mass damper with variable tuning by means of a computer and instrumentation system, for example. Fully active dampers, on the other hand, make use of computers to control sensors and actuators on the structure to produce forces that counteract the externally applied forces. Semiactive and active dampers, however, have several disadvantages when compared with passive systems.

Subject Headings: Damping | Cables | Vibration | Structural safety | Steel decks | Computing in civil engineering | Building design

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