Controlling motion in the world’s most ambitious structures

Updated: Jul 6


A 70-foot glass walkway extends over the Grand Canyon without visible support, yet visitors only notice the view, not vibration.

A 1400-foot tower rises above Manhattan, yet occupants only feel comfortable, unaware of high winds blowing against their Park Avenue home.

A 780-foot walkway at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport safely transports busy passengers to their international flights, unfazed by the airplanes travelling along the busy taxiway 85 feet below.


When the design for ambitious structures pushes the boundaries of what is possible, their performance is inevitably tested by the natural elements around them. These three examples of exceptional structures required equally exceptional damping systems to ensure that their performance is never compromised. They required “performance-based damping” systems.


Unique structures, unique solutions Having consulted on over 180 supplementary damping systems across the globe, the Motioneering team understands that unique structures require unique damping solutions. A one-of-a-kind structure will not perform optimally with a “one-size-fits-all” damping system.


Customized tuned mass damping (TMD) systems supplement the inherently poor damping properties of a structure itself, minimizing undesirable motion. Typically more cost effective than other approaches, TMDs have been essential to the realization of hundreds of breathtakingly innovative designs–some previously thought to be impossible to build—including the three mentioned above.


Proven approach In contrast to an “off-the-shelf” damper, a skillfully engineered TMD can significantly enhance the damping capacity of a traditionally designed structure, allowing boundaries to be pushed further. This knowledge, combined with decades of experience in wind engineering, is what enables the Motioneering team to fully design, engineer and evaluate the performance of a TMD, ensuring a fully functional system for the expected lifespan of a structure. This performance-based damping approach includes:


Concept design to determine the most appropriate TMD for a structure, whether it’s a solid- or water-based mass system.


Performance analysis to generate a high-fidelity dynamic TMD model using proprietary time-domain software tools, in conjunction with simulations of wind- and seismic-load events.


Detailed design to deliver evidence-based refinements, informed by insights from the performance analysis.


Fabrication and factory-acceptance tests, including shop drawings, quality control, trial assemblies to assess performance testing of critical components.


Tuning and commissioning the systems accordingly to achieve optimal performance with onsite measurements of the as-built structural frequencies.


Maintenance and monitoring for long-term support of a structure, as part of a proactive and comprehensive operational strategy.


To allow designers and architects maximum design flexibility and creativity they need a customized motion-control system that will support their designs. Performance-based damping systems provide that security, enabling the next glass walkway, skyscraper or pedestrian bridge to be even more ambitious than the last.

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