The studio-style study introduces classic and computational approaches to creating design options for long span structures and tall buildings.  Students from various backgrounds work in teams to propose new designs by finding relationships between form, materials, and behavior of systems resisting static and dynamic loads. An iterative process begins by assessing design challenges, critical study of exemplary structures, sketching by hand, use of simplified calculations, and parametric analyses of forms using generative computational methods. These lead to a detailed design validated through finite element analyses and an understanding of key variables that influence performance of the structure. A parallel emphasis is on environmental impacts, constructability, occupant experience, and visual appeal of designs. To develop an intuitive feel for practical aspects of constructing and controlling load paths through structural elements and connections, teams create physical models to anticipate structural behavior including membrane action, effects of joint restraint, slenderness, or system stiffness. Practicing structural engineers review the projects and share their feedback. An overall goal is to experience a structural design process and understand the socio-economic meaning of efficient and elegant forms that can be realized through creative, collaborative, and disciplined design.

Structural Design Project I

Structural Design Project II

Modeling and Analysis of Structures

We begin with energy concepts including strain energy, virtual work, Betti's and Maxwell's theorems, then delve into the stiffness method.  From the principle of virtual displacements and analyses based on the finite element theory, we build up to the discussion of structural nonliearity, including concepts such as geometric stiffness, physical and geometric nonlinearities, tangent modulus theory, stability, and plastic hinge theory.  Drawing upon examples from built structures, we complement analytical and numerical modeling with methods such as graphic statics, influence lines, and modal pushover analysis to understand structural behavior of trusses, frames, arches, cables, vaults, and buildings.       

The course presents advanced topics on the behavior of structural elements and systems with a focus on fundamental structural mechanics and applications in steel design. Theory of elastic and inelastic buckling, global and local behavior of members and thin plates, flexural and axial-flexural elements, St. Venant and non-uniform torsion in elements with thin-walled cross sections, rigidly jointed frames and braced frames, and second order (P-delta) effects are studied in detail. Web buckling and post-buckling behavior of plate girders are analyzed. Discussion on ductility and principles of plastic analysis includes examples of continuous beams and frames under combined loads. Fundamentals in structural design of building elements exposed to fire connect a study of behavior from first principles and examples based on current standards.

Design of Steel Structures

Gordana Herning, PE, PhD


©2020 Gordana Herning