The purpose of this paper is to examine the response records and thereby the performance of the base-isolated University of Southern California (USC) hospital building during the Ms = 6-8 Northridge (California) earthquake of 17 January 1994. The data retrieved from the building is the first set of data from any base-isolated building that (a) was tested to acceleration levels at the free-field similar to the zero period acceleration (ZPA) level postulated in the seismic design criteria of the building and (b) exhibits levels of relative displacement excursions which puts the isolators into the nonlinear range. The variation of the fundamental frequency as a function of changing instantaneous stiffness of the isolators is identifiable. During the shaking, the isolators (a) performed well and, having attained up to 10% hysteretic damping, effectively dissipated the incoming energy of motions and (b) reduced the drift ratios of the superstructure of the building to a maximum of 10% of the allowable, which should explain the fact that there was no damage to the structure or its contents. The primary conclusion of this study is that this base-isolated building performed well during the Northridge earthquake of 17 January 1994 when only approximately 10% of the displacement capability of the isolators were utilized. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that the building will perform well during future earthquakes in the region.
Additional publication details
Successful performance of a base-isolated hospital building during the 17 January 1994 northridge earthquake