Project Title/ID Number Performance Evaluation of Gypsum Wallboard Partitions —5322002
Start/End Dates 10/1/02—9/30/03
Project Leader André Filiatrault (UCSD/Faculty)
Team Members José Restrepo (UCSD/Faculty), Andrew Bersofsky (UCSD/Grad Student)
Project goals and objectives

The objectives of this project are to develop data and models to characterize the performance of gypsum wallboard partitions, of the type common to modern office, hotel, and laboratory buildings.

Role of this project in supporting PEER’s vision

This project supports the PEER strategic plan by providing experimental data in order to quantify the performance pf gypsum wall board partitions. Performance data are central to the PEER mission of developing performance-based earthquake engineering methodologies, in this case for nonstructural building components.

Methodology employed

The scope of this project is to investigate experimentally the seismic fragility of gypsum light gage metal stud partition walls that are commonly used in modern steel and reinforced concrete office, hotel and laboratory buildings. For this purpose, in-plane shear testing will be conducted on a number of partition wall specimens. The construction of each specimen will be according to current standard practice including mudding, taping, and painting of the gypsum finish wallboard. The testing will be conducted in the existing shear wall testing apparatus at the University of California at San Diego shown in Fig. 1. This apparatus allows the simultaneous testing of two parallel wall specimens having dimensions of up to 8 ft in height and 16 feet in length.

Eight groups of three specimens (24 walls total) will be considered for testing. Each specimen will be 8 feet tall and 16 feet long. Four groups will be tested in the first year of the project (Year 6). The last four groups of wall specimens will be tested in the second year of the project (Year 7) contingent on funding by PEER for the second year. A preliminary list of the key parameters that will be varied for each group is given in the table below. Several contractors and suppliers will be approached for donations of materials and labor in order to minimize the cost of construction of the wall specimens. An advisory committee will be formed to provide guidance to the project.


Figure 1. Shear wall testing apparatus

Larger View

Wall Specimen Group
Preliminary description of Key Parameters
1 Reference: full height, no openings, reference sheathing-to-framing connector spacing
2 Full height, one door opening included
3 Full height, no openings, reduced sheathing-to-framing connector spacing
4 Partial height, no opening, glass windows on top
5 To be determined in second year
Brief description of past year’s accomplishments and more detail on expected Year 6 accomplishments

The project has just started in 01/01/03. The first meeting of the advisory committee of the project will take place on 03/28/03 with the objective to determine the scope of the experimental program for the first year of the project.

Other similar work being conducted within and outside PEER and how this project differs

The project will be conducted in close coordination with Professor Eduardo Miranda from Stanford University and Professor James Beck from Caltech (loss modeling researchers) to ensure that data and models are collected in a way that feeds into PEER PBEE methodology.

Also, the following previous tests on gypsum wallboard partitions will be reviewed and relevant data and models shall be utilized in planning the test program and developing and validating the fragility models. The following are examples of the previous studies that will be referenced:

  • Tests conducted through the 1960’s through 1990’s by J.A. Blume Associates, Adams (1974), Freeman (1977), Thulan (1983), Rihal and Granneman (1984), Konig (1989), Adham et al. (1990), Oliva (1990), Miller et al. (1994), Karacabeyli and Ceccotti (1996).
  • Test and analyses of wood framed gypsum wallboard conducted by partitions by McMullin and Derrick (2001) and by Uang and Gatto (2001) and as part of the recent CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project.

Apart from these studies, there have been few other investigations of the seismic performance of gypsum wall-board partitions, and none of these were designed to exercise the PBEE methodology as envisioned as part of this project.

Plans for Year 7 if this project is expected to be continued

The project is envisioned as a two-year effort (Years 6 and 7) that will entail close coordination with other PEER researchers and a small group of experts to advise on the investigation.

Describe any instances where you are aware that your results have been used in industry

The work on gypsum wallboard is being considered by the TS-7 committee on wood structures for inclusion in the next NEHRP seismic standards.

Expected milestones

Major milestones are as follows:

  • January - March 2003 – Prepare and hold initial planning meeting, the outcome of which will be a short report outlining recommendations and detailed plans for testing, data collection and archiving, and fragility model development.
  • March, 2003 – Present status report on testing plans at 2003 PEER Annual Meeting
  • May, 2003 – Complete review of prior test data and fragility models for walls and finalize plans for detailed testing program.
  • June, 2003 – Commence initial series of wall tests.
  • October 2003 – Complete interim report on initial series of tests, status report on development of on-line test database and fragility models. Report on progress at fall testbed meetings.
  • January, 2004 – Have an electronic database in place for archiving wall test data and processing relevant statistics.
  • March, 2004 - Refine and reconfirm detailed plans for final series of wall tests with input from advisory committee.
  • May, 2004 – Commence final series of wall tests
  • October 2004 – Finalize project report and archival of database of performance-data and models.

Note that milestones listed past October 2003 are contingent on funding by PEER for the second year (Year 7).


Major deliverables will be:

  • a methodology for developing the fragility models through combined testing and statistical modeling
  • an archived database of wall performance data, compiled in an electronic database made accessible to other researchers and engineering professionals
  • a set of parametric fragility functions relating EDP-DM for partition walls