Structural assessment of a transparent wall panel with load-bearing backup framing and polycarbonate sheathing for residential construction

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Abstract A new type of wall system for use in light-frame construction has recently been developed at Penn State University to allow for maximum daylighting and the use of glazing integrated photovoltaics to generate electricity. One structural option of the proposed wall system employs structural steel tubing to form the gravity load-bearing frame and polycarbonate sheets to perform the sheathing function. The exterior skin of the wall consists of a glazing system, which includes aluminum framing and glass panes that incorporate photovoltaics. Preliminary structural tests are presented to show the gravity load carrying capacity of the steel framing and in-plane lateral load carrying capacity of the polycarbonate sheathing. Similar tests were also carried out on conventional wood-frame panels to serve as benchmarks for evaluation of the proposed system. This paper mainly focuses on the structural system and provides a summary of the structural test results, which show that the proposed system can provide gravity and lateral load resistance. The results of this investigation also identify the need for follow-up studies to optimize the proposed design for cost effectiveness and increased thermal insulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-314
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Architectural Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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