Date of Award

Fall 2018

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Ricardo A. Medina

Second Advisor

Erin S. Bell

Third Advisor

May-Win Thein


Post-earthquake reconnaissance following past earthquakes in the US and other seismic-prone countries illustrates that the majority of building losses (injury, dollar loss and downtime) resulted from damage to nonstructural components (NSCs) and building contents. NSCs damages can severely compromise a building functionality, even if the building does not suffer significant structural damages. NSCs can be classified either as primarily displacement/deformation-sensitive or acceleration-sensitive. This study focuses on acceleration-sensitive components.

Previous studies on NSCs are mostly based on the responses of simplified models of primary systems and components. These models, while providing valuable insight into understanding the influential parameters on NSCs seismic demands and behavioral patterns, may not adequately represent the characteristics present in the response of actual buildings. In the first part of this dissertation, acceleration responses of a wide variety of instrumented buildings and code-based designed building models are evaluated to: (i) identify the most important limitations of using simplified numerical models, (ii) quantify the most influential parameters that control NSC responses, (iii) evaluate the design equivalent static equations of ASCE 7-16 for acceleration-sensitive NSCs, (iv) assess alternative design equivalent static equations proposed as part of a recent project sponsored by the Applied Technology Council (Project ATC-120), and (v) develop modifications and improvements to the proposed ATC-120 equations.

In the second part of this dissertation, modern seismic protection techniques are studied that can decrease seismic input demands to a building, as opposed to modifying the seismic resistance of a building, which is the approach taken in current US design seismic provisions. The conventional base-isolation and tuned-mass-damper concepts are utilized to develop an innovative seismic control system (i.e., partial mass isolation, PMI) that can reliably enhance the seismic performance of the structural elements and NSCs so that the building can be occupied and remain functional immediately after a design earthquake. The practicality, limitations, effectiveness, and robustness of the PMI system for protecting the structural and nonstructural components of building structures are discussed and evaluated.