Title page for ETD etd-32798-104816

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Carradine, David Marc
Author's Email Address dcarradi@vt.edu
URN etd-32798-104816
Title Experiments on the Response of Arch-Supported Membrane Shelters to Snow and Wind Loading
Degree Master of Science
Department Civil Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Plaut, Raymond H. Committee Chair
Easterling, William Samuel Committee Member
Kapania, Rabesh K. Committee Member
  • pneumatic structures
  • snow loading
  • wind loading
  • scale model
  • structural failure
  • arch-supported membrane shelters
Date of Defense 1998-04-16
Availability unrestricted
Experiments on the Response of Arch-Supported Membrane Shelters to

Snow and Wind Loading


David Marc Carradine

R. H. Plaut, Chairman

Civil Engineering


For many years, inflatable structures and membrane enclosed structures have

proved useful for a variety of purposes, such as athletic pavilions, exhibition spaces,

coliseums, and kiosks. More recently, structures that combine highly pressurized

inflatable arch members with light fabric membrane coverings have been considered for

use as a variation of such structural systems. The United States Army has begun to

investigate pressurized arch-supported membrane shelters that would be large,

lightweight, and easily erected in a short amount of time. These shelters are proposed for

a variety of purposes, including aircraft hangars, vehicle maintenance shelters, and

medical aid stations.

The specific contribution of this study was the creation and testing of scale models

to obtain a better understanding of how these structures behave under wind and snow

loading conditions. Three models were constructed, one at a scale of 1:100 and two at a

scale of 1:50. The 1:100 scale model represented a proposed prototypical structure 200 ft

long, 75 ft wide, and 50 ft tall, with multiple arches. Of the 1:50 scale models, one model

represented a structure with the same dimensions as the 1:100 scale model and the other

represented a single arch from one of the proposed prototypical structures. Both of the

full structural models were wind and snow load tested. The single arch model was tested

under full and partial snow loading. Data from the testing were collected, tabulated, and

evaluated. The experimental results are discussed, conclusions are drawn, and

recommendations for further research are presented.

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