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Footfall-Induced Vibration

Using advanced analysis, we assess – and cost-effectively mitigate – the impacts of one of the most difficult-to-predict sources of structural vibration.

Lead Contacts

FootPrint predictive vibrations for a new hospital.
Comparison of measured and predicted results of floor vibrations using FootPrint.
Advanced finite element model of a complex structure.

Surprising as it may seem, the effect of people walking around is one of the most challenging sources of disruptive movement. It’s hard to predict. It can impair the performance of sensitive equipment like MRIs and electron microscopes. It can make sitting at a desk or sleeping in a bed uncomfortable.

Traditional methods for predicting footfall-induced vibrations (via American Institutes of Steel Construction Design Guide 11) are often overly conservative, when compared to real-world testing. So code-based solutions tend to be overdesigned and expensive.

For hospitals, labs, and pharmaceutical and athletic facilities, getting the right design for footfall-induced vibration is mission critical. But it’s also an important factor in the value of commercial, residential and cultural buildings.

Advanced Techniques

At Thornton Tomasetti, we’ve invented better ways to predict footfall-induced vibration. Based on methods outlined in Steel Construction Institute (SCI-P354) and Concrete Centre (CCIP-016), we develop a finite-element model of the structure. Its multimodal time-history predictions accurately account for actual building geometry and layouts, realistic walking paths and speeds, and building-specific transfer of vibration. Our models can also predict the complex effects of group activities like aerobics and dancing at a concert.

FootPrint for Optimal Response

Even advanced off-the-shelf methods for predicting and controlling footfall-induced vibration don’t yield the very best results. So we developed FootPrint, a software tool that maps and calculates behavior based on plans for individual floors. Using FootPrint, we can help you optimize architectural and structural layouts. We work with project teams to organize the space on each floor to accommodate predicted movement. This seamless coordination of program planning and building physics offers the most efficient way to meet the challenges of footfall-induced vibration.

Our Team