Seismic design and parametric study of steel modular frames with distributed seismic resistance

Chen Wang, Tak Ming Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Structures in modular buildings typically have some unique characteristics as compared with conventional structures, e.g., discrete connection of modules through inter-module connections, discontinuous floor diaphragms. The behavior of steel modular structures under earthquake excitations has not been fully understood, and no seismic design method specifically tailored for modular building structures is available. Moreover, although various inter-module connections with different rotational connectivity have been proposed, their suitability for seismic application is questionable. In this paper, the distributed seismic design method, which makes use of the lateral resistance inherent in all modules, was proposed for modular buildings with steel frames. A numerical parametric study was conducted on a 9-story prototype building. The effect of three parameters, i.e., the rotational stiffness of inter-module connections, the seismic design force level, and the height-wise distribution of the design base shear, were studied. The results show that the rotational stiffness of inter-module connections has limited impact on the elastic lateral stiffness and the fundamental period of modular steel frames. However, in the inelastic range, the increase in the rotational stiffness will lead to less plastic drift concentration and better collapse prevention performance. Increasing the seismic design force may not result in enhanced collapse prevention performance, as it is also dependent on the height-wise distribution of the design base shear and if significant higher-mode response is involved in the total response of the structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110325
JournalThin-Walled Structures
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Distributed seismic resistance
  • Higher-mode effect
  • Inter-module connection
  • Modular buildings
  • Rotational stiffness
  • Soft-story mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering


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