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Full-Scale Wind Pressure Measurements

Image of the Space Needle
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Jack Hochschild

Motivation and Objective

Each year, extreme wind events are responsible for about $100 billion of damage globally, and this number continues to increase. To design resilient buildings, engineers need tools that can accurately characterize wind loads. Presently, only wind tunnel testing is approved for the design of high-rise buildings. The goal of this project is to compare the efficacy of wind tunnel testing with computational simulations for characterizing peak wind forces. We will do this by taking full-scale measurements on high-rise buildings and then comparing these with those predicted through wind tunnel and CFD.


Image of a remote sensing datalogger, designed through this research effort

Wind tunnel testing several absolute sensors identified one which is able to measure turbulent wind pressures at relatively low wind speeds. Previous full-scale experiments used differential sensors, which introduce problems associated with changing reference pressure, hindering direct comparison with CFD or wind tunnel results. A custom remote datalogger was designed featuring this absolute transducer. The datalogger was designed to be unobtrusive, low-cost, and low-profile/aerodynamic. One is shown on the left.

Image showing the locations of sensors placed on the two buildings

A network of these sensors is being deployed on two buildings: the Space Needle in Seattle, and 650 California St. in San Francisco. Simultaneously, large-eddy simulations (LES) are being run to simulate the wind loading on both buildings. The next step will be to compare wind pressures predicted by LES with real-world results.


Acknowledgements and Resources

This research is funded by NSF CAREER Award 1749610, and by Stanford's UPS endowment fund.