Just recently, I began a project with Dr. Shamim Pakzad of Lehigh University on the design of a tuned mass damping system that would simulate the seismic behavior or a loft structure. The project originated from a project that a friend of mine collaborated on with Michael Maltzan Architects: a studio built for Vincent Gallo, the Italian-American film director and actor. The goal of the experiment is to subject a damper similar to what's shown in Figure 1 to a harmonic excitation. Using an accelerometer, both natural frequency and period (inverse relationships) can be ascertained.
The damper will consist of two parts: (1) a single degree of freedom system (the base damper, similar that shown in Fig 1) and (2) a multiple degree of freedom system (the smaller damping system consisting of small aluminum masses, similar to that shown in Fig 2). A hole will be cut in the base damper to allow the smaller MDOF system (the masses) to be inserted in (Fig 3). This will simulate the actual dynamic response of a loft structure undergoing a sudden lateral vibration.
What we are measuring here is frequency, period and damping ratio. A project like this is used to analyze how buildings that utilize loft structures, which are quite common for architects today to design, react in the event f an earthquake or excessive wind loadings. The experiment is not meant to exactly represent every loft structure; only those that are inset in other, older existing structures are more reasonably represented here.
By mid-February, this data will be processed and analyzed. A valid report will be edited and then posted on this blog.
I'm currently earning my masters in structural engineering at Lehigh University, but I hold a bachelors of architecture from the University of Oregon. What I would like to write about has to do with my aforementioned diverse background, i.e., what lessons I've learned in structural engineering that may help me as an architect in the near future.