Optimization of the bending stiffness of beam-to-column and column-to-foundation connections in precast concrete structures

Abstract This work involved the structural optimization of precast concrete rigid frames with semi-rigid beam-to-column connections. To this end, several frames were simulated numerically using the Finite Element Method. Beams and columns were modeled using bar elements and their connections were modeled using spring elements, with variable bending stiffness. The objective function was based on the search of the least stiff connection able to ensure the global stability of the building. Lastly, a connection model with optimal stiffness was adopted to design the frame. Semi-rigid beam-to-column connections with a constraint factors of 0.33 sufficed to ensure the maximum allowable horizontal displacement and bending moment of the connection, with a global stability parameter of 1.12. This confirms that even connections with low constraints generate significant gains from the structural standpoint, without affecting construction and assembly-related aspects.