Vibration Serviceability of Monumental Stairs

Amber Jurgensen


Monumental Stairs have become a common addition to architectural designs in recent years.  Due to their slenderness, complex shapes, and long spans, monumental stairs often cause vibration serviceability problems in architectural structures.  This means that when people walk on the stair, vibrations of the structure, and sometimes the transmission of that vibration to other parts of the building, can cause discomfort to the occupants.  To prevent the occurrence of such problems, the structural designers should be able to predict the dynamic properties and structural response of monumental stairs under users’ loads.  This is usually conducted using structural analysis software.  Therefore, it is important to create a computer model that can accurately provide the required information.  The main research question that is addressed in this paper is ‘how monumental stairs should be modeled in a structural analysis software to reliably predict their natural frequencies.’  To achieve this goal, the research methodology used in the study consisted of comparing the results of computer modeling and measured field data from two different monumental stairs.  The stairs used in this study are made of steel structure.  Electrodynamic shakers and accelerometers were used for modal tests.  Computer models of the structure were adjusted to provide the best match between the analytical and field measured results.  These included the comparison of the predicted and measured natural frequencies and mode shapes.  Upon the completion of this research, important parameters for creating a realistic structural model of monumental stairs were identified.  The study showed that the stringer stiffness, weight of structure, and inclusion of non-structural elements such as stair cladding are important factors that need to be accurately incorporated into a structural model of a monumental stair to estimate its natural frequencies for vibration serviceability evaluations.


Vibration Serviceability; Monumental Stair; Vibration Testing

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