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Design of Wood Diaphragms and Shear Walls

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Instructor Information: Alexander Newman, P.E., F.ASCE

Course Length: 1.5 Hours

This webinar was co-sponsored by ASCE's Structural Engineering Institute and ASCE Continuing Education. 

Purpose and Background

Rational design of wood-framed buildings for wind and seismic loading typically includes diaphragms and shear walls. Contemporary building codes contain very specific requirements pertaining to these critically important structural elements, such as complex formulas for their deflections. Most engineers understand what a shear wall is, but some are not as clear on the concept of a diaphragm. In addition, timber design is not taught in many engineering schools, and designing a wood diaphragm may seem doubly confusing. On the other hand, structural engineers designing wood-framed buildings for lateral loads must contend with frequent misunderstanding of their efforts by the clients and contractors, who sometime assume that these structures require nothing more than consulting some simple charts and tables.

All these factors produce a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about how wood diaphragms and shear walls should be designed and constructed. This webinar clearly explains both the process and the main issues involved in selecting and detailing these structural elements, illustrating them with several step-bystep design examples. The presentation provides a brief overview of the design standards for resisting wind and seismic forces and the difference between the rational and the conventional design approaches. The instructor explains what makes a complete lateral-load resisting system and outlines the design procedures and construction techniques for cost-effective and reliable diaphragms, shear walls, and their connections. You will study proven design details for lateral-load resisting systems of wood-framed buildings. In addition, you will learn some common misconceptions involved in this area of design and learn which pitfalls to avoid.

Learning Outcomes/Benefits

  • Learn about the components of a wood lateral-load resisting system, including diaphragms, shear walls, and their connections
  • Discover why diaphragm connections at roof eaves and peak are often designed incorrectly and which design details provide a reliable transfer of forces from one element of the system to another
  • Understand the process of computing lateral deflections for diaphragms and shear walls
  • Become familiar with a method of designing perforated shear walls that offers a cost-effective alternative to yesterday’s designs
  • Find out which structural element is often designed, detailed and spliced incorrectly and what its design should look like
  • Examine the available materials and proprietary products for wood diaphragms and shear walls
  • Explore the issues of lateral and vertical load transfer in multistory shear walls

Intended Audience

Structural engineers and other design professionals seeking to broaden their knowledge of design and construction of wood diaphragms and shear walls will benefit from this webinar.

Webinar Outline

  • Introduction
    – Wood design standards for wind and seismic forces
    – Rational design vs. conventional construction
  • Components of wood lateral-load resisting systems
    – Diaphragms
    – Shear walls
    – Connections
  • Diaphragm construction
  • Diaphragm connections
    – Connections at chords and walls
    – Connections at roof peak
  • Diaphragm design
    – Design for strength (with design example)
    – Design of chord and its splice (with design example)
    – Design for deflections (with design example)
  • Shear wall design
    – Solid shear walls
    – Perforated shear walls (with design example)
  • Multistory shear walls