Date of Thesis



One of the challenges for structural engineers during design is considering how the structure will respond to crowd-induced dynamic loading. It has been shown that human occupants of a structure do not simply add mass to the system when considering the overall dynamic response of the system, but interact with it and may induce changes of the dynamic properties from those of the empty structure. This study presents an investigation into the human-structure interaction based on several crowd characteristics and their effect on the dynamic properties of an empty structure. The dynamic properties including frequency, damping, and mode shapes were estimated for a single test structure by means of experimental modal analysis techniques. The same techniques were utilized to estimate the dynamic properties when the test structure was occupied by a crowd with different combinations of size, posture, and distribution. The goal of this study is to isolate the occupant characteristics in order to determine the significance of each to be considered when designing new structures to avoid crowd serviceability issues. The results are presented and summarized based on the level of influence of each characteristic. The posture that produces the most significant effects based on the scope of this research is standing with bent knees with a maximum decrease in frequency of the first mode of the empty structure by 32 percent atthe highest mass ratio. The associated damping also increased 36 times the damping of the empty structure. In addition to the analysis of the experimental data, finite element models and a two degree-of-freedom model were created. These models were used to gain an understanding of the test structure, model a crowd as an equivalent mass, and also to develop a single degree-of-freedom (SDOF) model to best represent a crowd of occupants based on the experimental results. The SDOF models created had an averagefrequency of 5.0 Hz, within the range presented in existing biomechanics research, and combined SDOF systems of the test structure and crowd were able to reproduce the frequency and damping ratios associated with experimental tests. Results of this study confirmed the existence of human-structure interaction andthe inability to simply model a crowd as only additional mass. The two degree-offreedom model determined was able to predict the change in natural frequency and damping ratio for a structure occupied by multiple group sizes in a single posture. These results and model are the preliminary steps in the development of an appropriate methodfor modeling a crowd in combination with a more complex FE model of the empty structure.


dynamic crowd serviceability, vibrations, human-structure interaction, equivalent mass, mass ratio, natural frequency, damping ratio

Access Type

Honors Thesis


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Kelly A. Salyards