Shear walls and Clerestories

(Los Angeles, CA)


We want to build a small office addition to our detached garage. If we put a clerestory (glass just under the roof) all around on all four sides, can we still have a shear wall underneath? How does that work?


Putting glass on all four sides will take away effectiveness of any shear wall. For any shear wall to be effective it must be at the same level of which it intends to prevent from collapsing during high wind or earthquake.

The only way this will work is to build a moment frame structure. You can build steel columns from the corners shed below extending to the desired height of the new roof. These columns need to be designed to withstand the lateral loads imposed by wind or earthquake.

The intend is for the steel columns to transfer the load to the existing shed wall below. For this reason the columns will need to be firmly attached to the walls below. Due to the fact the shed walls are in place, it will be very difficult task.

On top of each steel column will need to be steel beam spanning from column to column, a total of 4. Directly below the steel beam will be the glass and another steel beam directly below the glass on all 4 sides.Directly above the higher steel beam is where the roof will be connected.

These steel members in most cases are welded to each. These are no easy task to build but doable.

Hope this helps
Good luck

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