Direct sizing criteria represent useful tools in the design of dissipative bracing systems for the advanced seismic protection of existing frame structures, especially when incorporated dampers feature a markedly non-linear behaviour. An energy-based procedure is proposed herein to this aim, focusing attention on systems including fluid viscous devices. The procedure starts by assuming prefixed reduction factors of the most critical response parameters in current conditions, which are evaluated by means of a conventional elastic finite element analysis. Simple formulas relating the reduction factors to the equivalent viscous damping ratio of the dampers, ξeq
, are proposed. These formulas allow calculating the ξeq
values that guarantee the achievement of the target factors. Finally, the energy dissipation capacity of the devices is deduced from ξeq
, finalizing their sizing process. A detailed description of the procedure is presented in the article, by distinguishing the cases where the prevailing structural deficiencies are represented by poor strength of the constituting members, from the cases having excessive horizontal displacements. A demonstrative application to the retrofit design of a reinforced concrete gym building is then offered to explicate the steps of the sizing criterion in practice, as well as to evaluate the enhancement of the seismic response capacities generated by the installation of the dissipative system.
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