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Question regarding seismic joints

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I am reading the IBC 2000. In Chapter 1620, "Earthquake Loads - Design, Detailing Requirements and Structural Component Load Effects", there is a requirement for buildings in Seismic Design Categories D, E and F that "all structures shall be separated from adjoining structures. Separations shall allow for the displacement delta-M...", which is calculated using the sum of the squares method on the seismic displacements of the two buildings. This requirement appears not to apply to buildings in Seismic Design Categories A, B or C.

However, in Chapter 1617,"Earthquake Loads - Minimum Design Lateral Force and Related Effects", there is a requirement in 1617.3 that "all portions of the building shalll be designed to act as an integral unit in resisting seismic forces unless separated structurally by a distance sufficient to avoid damaging contact under total deflection, delta-x." This separation requirement appears to be general, and applicable to all Seismic Design Categories.

Does anyone know if the 1617 requirement really does apply to all Design Categories? If so, do you know whether the "distance sufficient to avoid damaging contact" would be calculated using the sum of the square method? I am confused because these two requirements seem redundant in some respects.

I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could offer.  Thank you.

Ben Cornelius, PE

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