University of Auckland Centre for Earthquake Engineering Research

Seismic performance of beam column joints

Investigative research into the design and construction of beam column joints in order to simplify these processes, without compromising performance.

It had been recognised for some time that beam-column joints play a critical role in ensuring reinforced concrete frame structures can resist design forces, particularly those induced by earthquakes. Decades of research at universities worldwide have resulted in a better understanding of beam-column joints and beam-column joints can now be designed with a high degree of confidence in their ability to resist forces. Unfortunately, design rules resulting from this research often result in severe reinforcement congestion in beam-column joints.

The aim of this research on beam-column joints at The University of Auckland was to simplify the design and construction of beam-column joints without compromising performance.

Research was divided into two areas:

  1. Refinement of design standards to ensure compatibility with new materials and construction techniques.
  2. Development and testing of methods for constructing precast concrete frames.

Engineers and the wider public expect structures designed using New Zealand design standards will perform in an acceptable manner when subjected to earthquakes. To ensure the reliability of these standards it is necessary to verify structures built using new materials and/or construction techniques meet the performance levels predicted by these standards. Research at The University of Auckland focussed on the effect of using high strength reinforcement in exterior and interior beam-column joints and (in conjunction with Golden Bay Cement) on the performance of beam-column joints constructed from sustainable concrete.

It is popular in New Zealand to precast as much of concrete structures as possible. Precasting often allows faster, cheaper and higher quality construction compared to in-situ construction. A key feature of precast concrete frames is the detail and location of the connections between precast elements. Recent and ongoing research at The University of Auckland is investigating new and improved methods of constructing these connections, using advanced materials and mechanical connections.

  1. Megget, L.M. (2005). Seismic Design and Behaviour of External Reinforced Concrete Beam-Column Joints Incorporating 500E Grade Steel Reinforcing. Bulletin of the New Zealand National Society for Earthquake Engineering, 38(2): pp.73-86.
  2. Brooke, N.J., Megget, L.M., and Ingham, J.M. (2005). Factors to Consider in the Use of Grade 500E Longitudinal Reinforcement in the Beams of Ductile Moment Resisting Frames. Journal of the Structural Engineering Society of New Zealand, 18(1): pp.14-22.
  3. Brooke, N.J., Megget, L.M., and Ingham, J.M. (2006). Bond Performance of Interior Beam-Column Joints with High Strength Reinforcement. ACI Structural Journal, 103(4): pp.596-603.
  4. Brooke, N.J., Keyte, L.M., South, W., Ingham, J.M., Megget, L.M., and McSaveney, L. (2006). Assessing the Seismic Performance of "Green Concrete" Interior Beam-Column Joints. Proceedings of Second fib Congress. 5-8 June, Naples, Italy.
  5. Bai, A. (2003). Assessing the Seismic Performance of Reinforcement Coupler Systems. Master's Thesis, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Auckland, New Zealand. 150p.
  6. Brooke, N.J. and Ingham, J.M. (2006). Advanced Fibre Reinforced Precast Concrete Beam-Column Joints. Proceedings of The New Zealand Concrete Industry Conference. 29 September-01 October, Christchurch, New Zealand.