Seismic Design and Retrofit of Buildings and Bridges

Postgraduate course. Online.


UPC School


This Program is delivered online, in a full e-learning environment. Adobe Connect allows listening, viewing, recording, chatting and interacting with instructors and other attendants. Attendants use a virtual campus that provides access to teaching documentation, allows creating virtual personal spaces, includes forum or communication tools, facilitates team-working and discussions, among other capabilities.

This Program has 20 ECTS. Each ECTS totals 25 hours, comprising lectures, work and study time, and any other activity. Hence, total required time is 20 × 25 = 500 hours.

Major learning instruments are:

  • Recorded lectures. There are theory and computer applications sessions. Since this Program is professionally-oriented, theory sessions are mainly based on seismic regulations and on practical examples. Both types of sessions are divided in intervals lasting approximately twenty minutes. Computer applications sessions are mainly based in most spread commercial codes, such as SAP, ETABS, SAFE, PLAXIS, ROBOT, SHAKE, RISA, STAAD, among others. In sessions on computer applications, actual examples are worked out from very beginning to final design details. These examples are new buildings, retrofitted buildings, high-rise buildings, bridges, base isolation, among others. Attendants are asked to use same software than instructor, thus being able to obtain parallel results. Students can ask questions any time, being answered at earliest availability.
  • Forums. A number of forums are created to boost attendants and to allow for open discussions on case studies, and asking questions, among other learning and evaluation activities.
  • Provided documentation. Witten documentation is delivered to attendants. This includes teaching notes, scientific and technical papers and reports, books, design codes, worked examples, excel or MatLab files, SAP and ETABS files, and other relevant information.
  • Synchronous online sessions. Synchronous online interactive open sessions will be planned, depending on needs of participants. Professors attend these sessions and students pose questions and address their concerns; as well, relevant issues are discussed. Each synchronous session is scheduled according geographic location of students.
  • FAQ. The answers to the "Frequently Asked Questions" are included in a continuously updated database.
  • Continuous evaluation. Progression of attendants is monitored by frequent quizzes, multi-answer tests, short exercises, computer applications, and other activities. Attendants assess continuously their progression.
  • Final Thesis. Final Thesis is major output of Program since allows applying taught concepts and described procedures to actual projects. Each attendant will propose a subject of her/his interest; upon acceptation by director of Program, a supervisor is assigned. Ordinarily, development of Thesis requires extensive use of software codes.

Given professional orientation of Program, teaching is mainly based on major international design codes (FEMA, ACI, AISC, ATC, ASCE, NEHRP, AASHTO, ENs, ISO, Eurocode 8, etc.). Since regulations of virtually all countries are based either on US codes or in Eurocodes, participants will be able to perform any intervention in any country.

Customary language is English.


Basis of Seismic Design
6 ECTS. 59 teaching hours.

Dynamics of Structures

  • Basic concepts. Displacement, velocity and acceleration. Frequency and period. Excitation (input) and response (output). Mass, damping and stiffness.
  • Signal analysis. Fourier spectrum.
  • Single-degree-of-freedom systems. Modeling criteria. Natural frequency and damping ratio. Harmonic input. Free and forced responses. Resonance.
  • Multi-degree-of-freedom systems. Lumped masses models. Modelling of symmetric and asymmetric buildings. Diaphragm effect. Modal analysis. Natural frequencies and modal shapes. Modal participation factors. Modal masse.

Earthquake Engineering & Seismology

  • Earthquakes. Origin and propagation. Intensity. Magnitude. Return period.
  • Near-source and far-source registers. Impulsivity, directivity and directionality. Influence of the soil type.

Earthquake-Resistant Design

  • Effects of seismic inputs on structures. Relative displacement, inter-story drift and absolute acceleration.
  • Design codes. Eurocode 8. American regulations.
  • Types of building structures: frames, walls, bracings, dual systems. Behavior of building structures under vertical loads and under horizontal forces.
  • Heuristic seismic design recommendations. Symmetry, uniformity, compactness, lightness, ductility, damping, simplicity, separation. Strong column-weak beam. Short columns.
  • Types of seismic analyses: static linear, static nonlinear, and dynamic nonlinear
  • Response spectra. Acceleration, velocity and displacement spectra. Influence of seismicity, damping, soil type, importance and ductility. Response reduction factor.
  • Multimodal analysis. Number of modes to be considered. Modal combination criteria: SRSS and CQC.
  • Static nonlinear analysis (push-over). Plastic hinges. Modelling criteria: distributed and concentrated plasticity.
  • Performance-based design. Performance points (target drifts: IO, LS, CP, DL, SD, NC). American and European (N2) formulations.
  • Dynamic nonlinear analysis. IDA curves.
  • Vertical seismic analysis.
  • Seismic analysis of non-structural components.
  • Pounding between adjacent buildings. Required gap.
Seismic Design and Retrofit of Buildings
6 ECTS. 58 teaching hours.

Seismic Design of Concrete Buildings

  • Types of concrete building structures. Frames, structural walls, dual systems. Primary and secondary members. Critical regions. Ductility classes. Response reduction factor.
  • Local ductility of critical regions.
  • Structural elements. Beams. Slabs. Columns. Joints. Walls. Coupled walls. Coupling beams. Failure models and modelling with strut-and-tie models.
  • Precast concrete structures.

Seismic Design of Steel Buildings

  • Types of steel and composite building structures. Frames, concentric bracing, eccentric bracing, dual systems.
  • Critical regions. Ductility classes. Response reduction factor.
  • Structural elements. Beams. Slabs. Columns. Joints. Pre-qualified connections. Braces: diagonal, chevron.
  • Special Truss Moment Frames.
  • Outrigger walls.

Seismic Design of Timber Buildings

  • Timber construction. Heavy timber, platform frame, cross-laminated timber.
  • Earthquake-resistant qualities of timber buildings. Ductility of the connections. Design criteria.
  • Example of seismic design of a timber building.

Seismic Design of Masonry Buildings

  • Masonry construction. Unreinforced, confined and reinforced masonry.
  • Earthquake-resistant qualities of masonry buildings. Design criteria.
  • Example of seismic design of a masonry building.

Seismic Retrofit of Buildings

  • Use of the Performance-Based Design.
  • Basic retrofit strategies. Global Structural Stiffening and Strengthening. Bracing. Strengthening of columns.
  • Removal or Lessening of Existing Irregularities. Re-symmetrization. Mass Reduction. Local Modification of Components.
  • Knowledge levels. Decisions for structural interventions.
  • FEMA, ATC and ASCE regulations. Eurocode 8 Part 3.

Seismic Design and Retrofit of Foundations

  • Basic concepts of soil response to earthquakes.
  • Liquefaction. Risk of landslides.
  • Retaining walls. Mononobe-Okabe formulation.
  • Shallow and deep foundations. Tie-beams and foundation beams. Raft foundations
  • Effect of earthquakes on foundations.
  • Applications. Liquefaction potential. Seismic design of foundations. Soil-structure interaction.
Seismic Design and Retrofit of Bridges
2 ECTS. 14 teaching hours.

Seismic Design and Retrofit of Bridges

  • Pedestrian, road and railway bridges.
  • Types of bridges. Decks. Piles. Abutments. Cable-stayed bridges. Suspended bridges
  • Design criteria. AASHTO specifications. Eurocode 8 Part 2.
  • Long-span bridges: spatial variation of the input ground motion.
New Technologies for Seismic Protection
2 ECTS. 13 teaching hours.

Base Isolation

  • Concept of base isolation. Degree of isolation. Limitations. Design criteria. Regulations.
  • Types of isolators. Rubber bearings. RB, LRB, HDRB. Durability.
  • Friction devices; flat and curved surfaces. Other isolators. Supplemental damping.
  • Applications to buildings and bridges. Other applications. 3D isolation.
  • Observed seismic performance of isolated constructions.
  • Applications to seismic retrofit.
  • Design examples.

Energy Dissipators

  • Energy dissipators. Design criteria. Efficiency. Regulations. Applications.
    Types of dissipators. Hysteretic devices. Buckling-restrained braces. Steel walls. Friction devices. Viscous and viscoelastic devices. VD walls. Use of SMA. Other dissipators.
  • Applications to buildings and bridges. Other applications.
  • Applications to seismic retrofit.
  • Design examples.

Mass Dampers

  • Tuned mass dampers. Design criteria. Efficiency. Regulations. Active and semi-active dampers.
  • Shock absorbers. Tuned liquid dampers. Tuned sloshing dampers and liquid column dampers.
  • Applications to tall buildings, communication towers and steel chimneys. Applications to building slabs and pedestrian and road bridges.
Final Thesis
4 ECTS. 16 teaching hours.
  • The topic of the Thesis is proposed by each student and is approved by the director of the Program taking into account the feasibility and the practical interest of the proposal. Eligible themes are seismic designs or retrofits of actual building or bridges, or other relevant theoretical or applied studies. It is strongly recommended that the selected subject is closely related to the professional interests of the attendants.
  • In past edition, some Theses developed by students were: Seismic analysis of a 30 story RC building, Seismic design of a shopping and parking structure, Capacity design of representative multi-span bridges, Simplified racking frame analysis of metro stations, and Pushover analysis to estimate response reduction factor of RC elevated water tanks. Noticeably, some of these Theses consisted in developing general design and construction solutions that can be utilized in a wide set of situations.
Start admission
Information form
(34) 93 112 08 62

(160 teaching hours)

Start date:
Classes start:24/04/2017 Classes end:30/11/2017Programme ends: 28/02/2018

Registration fee:
3.900 €

Language of instruction:
Spanish / English

Registration open until the beginning of the course or until end of vacancies.

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