Facility Overview


The NHERI Wall of Wind (WOW) Experimental Facility (EF) at Florida International University (FIU) was funded by NSF to be a national facility that enables researchers to better understand wind effects on civil infrastructure systems and to prevent wind hazards from becoming community disasters. The NHERI WOW EF is powered by a combined 12-fan system capable of repeatable testing in up to 157 mph wind speeds through its flow management system. The unique advantage of the NHERI WOW EF is multi-scale (full-scale to 1:400) and high Reynolds number simulation of the effects of wind and wind-driven rain. This is accomplished using the twelve fans and a water spray system. In addition, the 16,000 sqft. fenced-off secure area enables researchers to plan and perform destructive tests for up to Category 5 Hurricane wind speeds. The NHERI WOW EF uses a wide range of equipment, instrumentation, and experimental simulation protocols, as well as a distinguished group of faculty, staff, and a well-trained team comprised of technical and operations personnel that allow for the delivery of world-class research.

The NHERI WOW EF provides the following experimental capabilities:

  • High-speed holistic testing at multiple scales in simulated hurricane wind speeds up to and including Category 5 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale
  • Destructive tests to study failure modes
  • Wind-driven rain simulations to study water intrusion
  • Full- and large-scale aerodynamic/aeroelastic testing in atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) flows at high Reynolds numbers
  • Testing under extreme environments to develop innovative mitigation devices
  • Conventional boundary layer wind tunnel testing in flows with various exposures and with full turbulence spectrum

Research topics that can be investigated at the NHERI WOW EF include (but are not limited to):

  • Obtaining wind load data for a wide range of building shapes, accounting for interference and shielding effects not addressed in current design standards. The archived database can help researchers study peak loads and validate computational methods
  • Holistic testing of integrated component assemblies to determine fragilities, progressive failure modes, and wind driven rain intrusion mechanisms
  • Validating sustainable building concepts and innovative mitigation strategies
  • Developing more energy efficient and smart building envelopes, identifying on-site renewable energy sources, and implementing natural ventilation strategies
  • Through strategic partnerships, investigating the use of aerodynamic data from straight winds in designs for tornadoes and downbursts

The services provided by the NHERI WOW EF to the users include:

  • Support for NSF proposal development
  • Design, construction, and instrumentation of test specimens
  • Test protocols and software implementation
  • Operations of the wind tunnel
  • Data acquisition, archiving, and curation
  • Processing and post processing of the data (depending on the proposal)
  • Safety and user training
  • Telepresence for remote participation
  • Outreach and dissemination
  • Office space and internet service for users during their visit

NHERI WOW EF Resources

(1) 16,000 sqft. fenced-off secure area for wind testing; (2) WOW apparatus (with 14 ft. high x 20 ft. wide test section), rain generation system, flow conditioning spires and roughness for atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) simulation, two Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to control 12 WOW fans, 16 ft. diameter turntable, data acquisition (DAQ) system, video capture and surveillance system (all housed in a 8,000 sqft. WOW building), (3) 3,000 sqft. pre-test specimen staging/construction/instrumentation (SCI) building with a fabrication shop, (4) 1,344 sqft. air conditioned Operations and Control Center (OCC) for controlling, monitoring, viewing the tests, and providing telepresence. (5) 1:15 small-scale WOW.