Structural Design and Wind Tunnel Testing of the Standing Whale Sculpture

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Herzog-Hara, Takeo
Structural Engineering , FInite Element Analysis , Sculpture , Wind
The design of civil engineering structures is regulated by a range of codes and standards published by governing authorities. There are, however, cases in which a unique structure does not fall within the purview of any one code. This thesis involves one such case, the proposal by artist Ed Burtynsky for the construction of a novel sculpture titled the Standing Whale. To understand the behaviour of the sculpture, several finite element analysis (FEA) models of the Standing Whale were developed. Due to the unique aspects and legislatively ambiguous nature of the project, the models were analyzed using a number of different load cases and combinations drawn from multiple codes and standards. Some examples include ice accretion guidelines from the bridge code, load combinations from the building code, and even live loads due to climbers from the playground equipment code. CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) was also used to model the load effects of wind considering a rigid structure. Because of how tall the structure is in comparison to its width, and how slender many of the structural elements are, a critical consideration was the assessment of the structure’s dynamic performance under wind conditions. To assess the dynamic performance of the structure under wind, a wind tunnel study was conducted. These wind tunnel tests were conducted at Western University’s world renowned WindEEE (Wind Engineering, Energy, and Envirronment) Research Institute. The model design and assembly used novel techniques such as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) to achieve the complex and slender model geometry. During tests, the model was exposed to winds at different speeds, angles, and profiles from different terrain types. The model’s response to these wind cases was used to gain an understanding of the structure’s dynamic properties. After iterating the design, the structure’s performance under statically applied load cases was found to be acceptable. The wind tunnel analyses indicated dynamic performance within typical expectations for civil engineering systems, and provided data indicating which forms of dynamic excitation the structure is vulnerable to on a comparative basis.
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