The proper definition of structural failure of irregular structures is a critical element in building vulnerability assessment. Shear force demands may be the main cause of failure under earthquake loading. This increases the uncertainty related to the definition of the limit states of irregular buildings. The present study thus focuses on the assessment of brittle shear failure on the performance criteria of vertically irregular tall buildings. Five 50-story structures are designed using international standards to represent code-conforming tall buildings with main vertical irregularities. Detailed simulation models are used to assess the failure modes of the buildings under the effect of far-field and near-source earthquake records. Experimentally verified shear strength models are adopted to monitor the shear supply-demand response of the reference structures. Based on the comprehensive results obtained from incremental dynamic analyses, it is concluded that shear modeling is essential for the reliable assessment of vertically irregular buildings. The characteristics of earthquake records and the irregularity type significantly influence the limit states of the reference buildings. Unlike the behavior of the buildings under the far-field earthquake scenario, which is controlled by flexure, the collapse prevention limit state is significantly influenced by the member shear response under the effect of near-field earthquakes. Accordingly, improved limit state criteria are proposed, which supports the reliable earthquake loss estimation of tall buildings with different vertical irregularities.
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