Structural walls, or shear walls, are elements used to resist lateral loads, such as those generated by wind and earthquakes. Structural walls are considerably deeper than typical beams or columns. This attribute gives structural walls considerable in-plane stiffness which makes structural walls a natural choice for resisting lateral loads. In addition to considerable strength, structural walls can dissipate a great deal of energy if detailed properly. Walls are an invaluable structural element when protecting buildings from seismic events.
Buildings often rely on structural walls as the main lateral force resisting system. Shear walls are required to perform in multiple ways. Walls must be able to prevent damage to non-structural elements during seismic loading events that are small in magnitude, but more frequent during the buildings design life. In addition, walls must be able to prevent the collapse of the building during ultimate seismic loading events that are very infrequent. Determining the necessary level of building protection and acceptable damage through structural design for any loading event is the core of performance based design. Performance based design allows engineers and stakeholders to determine the necessary and desired level of protection to the building under the possible loading conditions. Shear walls can then be designed to limit building damage to the specified degree. The load-deformation response of the structural walls must be accurately predicted and related to structural damage in order to achieve these performance goals under loading events of various magnitudes. Relating the strength and stiffness of shear walls to lateral displacement and damage is one of the main goals of this thesis.