Closed-form prediction of the thermal and structural response of a perimeter column in a fire

Spencer E. Quiel, Maria E.M. Garlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This paper proposes a simplified closed-form methodology with which to predict the thermal and structural response of steel perimeter columns in high-rise building frames exposed to fire. Due to their orientation in the building compartment, perimeter columns are heated on three sides and will develop a thermal gradient through their cross-sectional depth. Restraint of the thermal expansion associated with this gradient will cause these members to experience a combination of axial load (P) and bending moment (M), thus acting as beam-columns. At high temperatures, the thrudepth gradient will alter the plastic capacity and mechanical behavior of the perimeter column, leading to plastic P-M behavior that is not captured under the assumption of uniform cross-sectional temperature. Simplified methodologies are proposed to calculate the following: (1) the thru-depth temperature distribution that develops due to three-sided heating, (2) the gradient-induced changes in plastic capacity, and (3) the gradient-induced changes in demand (i.e. P and M). These methodologies are sufficiently simple for use in code-based design and can be implemented via a spreadsheet because they are closed-form. The individual results of each simple methodology as well as their combination are validated against the results of computational thermal and structural analysis, showing good agreement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-78
Number of pages15
JournalOpen Construction and Building Technology Journal
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction


  • Beam-column
  • Fire
  • Performance-based analysis
  • Steel
  • Thermal gradient


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