When North­eastern assis­tant pro­fessor of civil engi­neering Luca Caracoglia looks at how pow­erful winds affect very tall build­ings, he is con­cerned not just with cat­a­strophic struc­tural failure, but also with how well build­ings per­form in more rou­tine ways.

Do building occu­pants feel the wind effects or are they lit­er­ally shel­tered from storms? How well is a building able to main­tain the integrity of its sur­faces, such as facades?

Caracoglia recently received a $430,000 grant from the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion (NSF) to study the effects of wind on tall build­ings with these kinds of ques­tions in mind.

Titled, “An Inno­v­a­tive Performance-​​Based Sim­u­la­tion Frame­work for High-​​Rise Build­ings against Wind Haz­ards,” the project will be devoted to the problem of “performance-​​based engi­neering” in the pres­ence of wind haz­ards, focusing on what Caracoglia refers to as “ ser­vice­ability issues.”

As an example, he said, even though the struc­tural system of a building is often unaf­fected after a severe wind event, build­ings can require repairs to their façades because of dynamic vibra­tion induced by high winds.

In recent years … research has been cen­tered on the area of risk-​​based assess­ment of struc­tural integrity,” said Caracoglia. “My research will look at these uncer­tain­ties as well as sim­u­la­tion methods for performance-​​based wind engi­neering, which can con­tribute to the min­i­miza­tion of wind haz­ards and pos­sibly to the advance­ment in the design of future high-​​rise buildings.”

Caracoglia will use com­puter analysis to cal­cu­late the con­di­tional prob­a­bility asso­ci­ated with per­for­mance loss in tall build­ings, including such effects as the dis­com­fort of occu­pants and damage levels to facades.

The grant from the NSF also includes an edu­ca­tional com­po­nent, which will enable Caracoglia to improve his wind engi­neering grad­uate course and con­tinue to train his grad­uate and under­grad­uate stu­dents in aware­ness of wind hazards.