Scholarly Communications Project

Failure Prediction of Spatial Wood Structures: Geometric and Material Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis


Samruam Tongtoe

PhD Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


Civil Engineering


S. M. Holzer, Chair
D. A. Garst
J. R. Loferski
R. H. Plaut
S. Thangjitham

April 14, 1997
Blacksburg, Virginia


The purpose of this study is to investigate spatial wood structures, trace their response on equilibrium paths, identify failure modes, and predict the ultimate load. The finite element models of this study are based on the Crafts Pavilion dome (Triax) in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Church of the Nazarene dome (Varax) in Corvallis, Oregon. Modeling considerations include 3-d beam finite elements, transverse isotropy, torsional warping, beam-decking connectors, beam-beam connectors, geometric and material nonlinearities, and the discretization of pressure loads.

The primary objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that the beam-decking connectors (B-D connectors) form the weakest link of the dome. The beam-decking connectors are represented by nonlinear springs which model the load slip behavior of nails between the beam and the decking.

The secondary objective of this study is to develop models that are sufficiently simple to use in engineering practice.

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