CUREE Banner

Projects : NEES Nonstructural : Overview

NEES Nonstructural -
Simulation of the Seismic Performance of Nonstructural Systems


Nonstructural systems represent 75% of the loss exposure of US buildings to earthquakes, and account for over 78% of the total estimated national annualized earthquake loss. A very widely used nonstructural system, which represents a significant investment, is the ceiling-piping-partition system. Past earthquakes and numerical modeling considering potential earthquake scenarios show that the damage to this system causes the preponderance of US earthquake losses.

Nevertheless, due to the lack of system-level research studies, its seismic response is poorly understood. Consequently, its seismic performance contributes to increased failure probabilities and damage consequences, loss of function, and potential for injuries. All these factors contribute to decreased seismic resilience of both individual buildings and entire communities.

Ceiling-piping-partition systems consist of several components and subsystems, have complex three-dimensional geometries and complicated boundary conditions because of their multiple attachment points to the main structure, and are spread over large areas in all directions. Their seismic response, their interaction with the structural system they are suspended from or attached to, and their failure mechanisms are not well understood.

Moreover, their damage levels and fragilities are poorly defined due to the lack of system-level experimental studies and modeling capability. Their seismic behavior cannot be dependably analyzed and predicted due to a lack of numerical simulation tools. In addition, modern protective technologies, which are readily used in structural systems, have never been applied to these systems.

This Grand Challenge project will integrate multidisciplinary system-level studies that will develop, for the first time, a simulation capability and implementation process for enhancing the seismic performance of the ceiling-piping-partition nonstructural system.

Project Website:

QUICK REPORT: Project Update - February 7, 2013 [download]
Project Summary
Strategic Plan
Reports & Papers

Management Committee

Senior Personnel

Practice Committee


Funding support provided by:
NSF Logo
The National Science Foundation

© CUREE. All rights reserved.
Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 02.21.13