The frame structure designed with the existing design code in zones of high earthquake intensity doesn’t satisfy with the expectation of strong column–weak beam. Therefore, a new optimal approach based on failure modes with the ability to limit the cost and the damage is proposed. In the process of optimization design, all the stories of a building with the same interstory drift is defined to obtiain the minor damage, while the damage values of beams and columns are difined to obtain the except failure modes. At last a six-story steel reinforced concrete frame structure is designed to verify the method developed inhere. It is concluded that the method can supply an effective way to reduce both the damage and the cost of steel reinforced concrete frame structure, and can obtain the except failure modes.