Double Skin Façade Mass Dampers

BRIGE: Integrating Structural Control and Double Skin Façades for Building Safety and Energy Efficiency

Funding: NSF (CMMI 12-28074) 

PI: Tat S. Fu 

Duration: 2012-2014


This Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grant in Engineering (BRIGE) project aims to utilize double skin façades (DSF) as mass dampers in buildings for improving both building safety and energy efficiency. A DSF system consists of two layers of glasses with a cavity between them. Compared to a single glass skin system, this system is more insulating and its cavity allows airflow to help ventilate a building. By integrating mass dampers and double skin façades, structural vibrations can be dampened during earthquakes and strong winds without adding extra weight (i.e., separate mass dampers) to the structure. The added mobility of façades can also lead to innovative ways to adjust airflow and environmental conditions in the building. The proposed research will yield a new, movable DSF system with actuators installed to affect damper movements for structural control and the cavity between skins for environmental control. The DSF-damper attachment configurations and damper parameters will first be studied and optimized. Active control strategies will be developed to minimize structural vibrations. Various movements by the DSF-damper system will also be examined to maximize energy efficiency.

The success of this research will improve building sustainability by enhancing building safety and energy efficiency. Accurately understanding the synergy between structural and environmental controls will provide a transformative shift in building designs and operations. Integrative, synergistic research between Engineering and Architecture will prolong building life cycles while improving energy efficiency, thus achieving the broader goal of ensuring a more sustainable future for society. The proposed interdisciplinary work will also increase diversity in Engineering on two fronts. First, it will expose current Engineering students to different disciplines. Secondly, this research can attract students with non-Engineering backgrounds. In a cross-College collaboration (between Civil Engineering and Fine Arts), the PI developed an Architecture minor program that will help recruit students who are interested in Architecture into Civil Engineering. In light of the higher percentage of female and African American students in Architecture than in Engineering, recruiting students with architectural interests will increase the chances of attracting underrepresented students to Engineering.

Video: Double Skin Facade (DSF)

Video: Motion under seismic excitation of building with Double Skin Facade (Left) compare to a traditional building (Right)


Fu, T., 2014. “Improving Structural Safety with Double Skin Façade Mass Dampers.” Proceedings of the Engineering Mechanic Institute (EMI) 2014 Engineering Mechanics Conference, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, August 5-8, 2014.

Fu, T., and Zhang, R., 2014. “Control Strategies for a Double Skin Façade Mass Damper System.” Proceedings of the 6th World Conference on Structural Control and Monitoring (6WCSCM), Barcelona, Spain, July 15-17, 2014.

Fu, T., 2013. “Structural Control with Double Skin Façades.” Proceedings of the Engineering Mechanic Institute (EMI) 2013 Engineering Mechanics Conference, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, August 4-7, 2013.

Fu, T., 2013. “Double Skin Façades as Mass Dampers.” Proceedings of the 2013 American Control Conference (ACC2013), Washington D.C., June 17-19, 2013.