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This has been an interesting discussion. My vote is to leave the Rw=6 for
these reasons.
A box system designed with plywood shearwalls would normally require an Rw
of 8. However, most of us already work with a degree of safety which we
attribute to construction deficiencies - and therefor use an Rw of 6 to
boost the lateral shear to 18.5% of the structures weight.
In most residential structures of modest means, the Rw is a moot issue in
seismic zone 3 or 4 since the majority of lateral shear originates from wind
rather than seismic forces.
The allowable windo load theoretically lowers the Rw factor closer to 3 or
whatever you have it based upon the basic wind speed and other exposure.

Assume for the moment that the structure is governed by seismic and with an
Rw of 8. We increase the lateral load by at least 50% when using an Rw of
6 - essentially increasing the stiffness requirment of the shear elements.
If the wind load is stronger, then the "demand" to the structure begins to
approach an Rw of 5,4,3 - depending again upon the location and exposure.

My point is that many of us have already comprimised with an Rw of 6 when
the code allows an Rw of 8. When and where wind governs - which is often (at
least in one direction or down one or more lines of shear) - we design for
this worst case. Therefore, I am not in favor of creating a pole with three
or four times the stiffness of the wood lateral system unless wind dictates.

One other point - personally, I don't determine the lateral load for the
entire structure and distribute it proportionately into each line of shear.
Instead, I analyize and compare wind to seismic in each line of shear and
design that line for the worst condition. The front of a garage - jutting
out of a building, will exhibit very low lateral loads based upon seismic
weight, but will most often govern by wind loads - this makes the issue of
Rw moot.

One last point. If those of you who feel that the Rw should be reduced to 3,
how do you compensate for a structure controlled by wind with an embedded
post in one line of shear and plywood shearwalls in the others. Surely,
natural frequencies are reached whether the motion is wind or seismic
related. Therefore, I don't understand why there is a need to raise the
lateral load to a structure at more than three times what code allows?

With an Rw=8 in seismic zone 4 the base shear would be approx 0.137Wd, Rw=6
would be 0.183Wd and with Rw=3 would be 0.366Wd.

Rather than discussing Rw values, I understand this in terms of stiffness of
the resisting member - the same as using an allowable story drift of 0.0025h
for masonry and any other element used to resist shear in line with the
masonry. For conditions of wood and steel, allowable deflections increase to
0.005h. Therefore, I can understand increasing stiffness in the SAME LINE of
shear where one element is stiffer than the other.

Sorry to ramble, I hope you see my point.

Dennis S. Wish PE
La Quinta, California

ICQ# 6110557

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It
will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."
Robert Hutchins

-----Original Message-----
From: Parkerres [mailto:Parkerres(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 1998 8:05 AM
To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: WOOD MOMENT FRAMES, Rw = 3

Bill -

Thanks for the repsonse.  I, too, feel that the Rw=3 for the rest of the
building, or at least that direction, is excessive.  I will adopt the City's
shrug method and design accordingly.  Personally, I think it would be
if the Code left Rw=6 for cantilvered columns, and then added a note in the
text saying that cantlivered column systems should be designed for twice the
calculated load.  (This is similar to masonry shear walls, which are
for 1.5 times the calculated load).  This would eliminate the Rw=3 problem
the building, yet still give the desired design results for the cantilevered
columns.  The Code could then explicitly deal with the question of whether
not the doubled load also applies to the footing design and to the drift

Bruce Resnick, SE
Parker Resnick Str. Eng.