Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Engineering Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Youssef, Maged A.


Glass façades are commonly used in the modern construction industry. The thesis starts by providing a general background about glass façades, their design criteria, and related previous research studies. The common concern among the previous studies was the inadequate performance of glass façades during fire incidents, which accelerates the spread and severity of the fire. This concern is magnified by the recent worldwide increase in wildfires. Thus, it is critical for engineers to be able to assess the structural performance of glass façades at elevated temperatures. The thesis addresses this need by presenting a simplified technique to model single skin façades during fire exposure and evaluating the structural performance of typical glass facades during fire exposure.

The development of the simplified technique involved estimating the temperatures of the façade elements using the governing convection and radiation equations. The temperatures are then used to evaluate the properties of the materials of the façade as well as the thermal strains. Suitable elements are chosen to model the façade utilizing a widely used structural analysis program (SAP2000). The analysis steps are then summarized. The proposed simplified technique was found to be able to predict the behavior of glass façades during fire exposure with good accuracy.

Three main glass façade systems (vertical, inclined, and oversized) were then examined by exposing them to elevated temperatures and wind loads. The floors exposed to the fire experienced the highest lateral deformations. The vertical façade system acted as a continuous system, where the lateral deformations of the floors, which were unexposed to fire, increased. This behaviour did not occur in the inclined façade system, in which each floor acted independent of the other floors. Out of three examined systems, the inclined system experienced the lowest deformations, and the oversized system experienced the highest deformations.

Summary for Lay Audience

Safety of the occupants needs to be ensured during fire incidents, which are either developed within the building or outside (wildfire). This thesis addresses this point by focusing on glass façades, which are critical to stop the supply of oxygen to an internal fire or keep a wildfire outside the building. The thesis provides engineers with a simplified technique to estimate the behaviour of glass façades during fire exposure, which will allow them to ensure the occupant safety. The thesis also compares the performance of three glass façade systems and draws important conclusions, which can help engineers and architects during the planning stage for a new construction.