Conventional seismic design of concentrically braced frame (CBF) structures suggests that the gusset plate connecting a steel brace to beams and/or columns should be designed as non-dissipative in earthquakes, while the steel brace members should be designed as dissipative elements. These design intentions lead to thicker and larger gusset plates in design on one hand and a potentially under-rated contribution of gusset plates in design, on the other hand. In contrast, research has shown that compact and thinner gusset plates designed in accordance with the elliptical clearance method rather than the conventional standard linear clearance method can enhance system ductility and energy dissipation capacity in concentrically braced steel frames. In order to assess the two design methods, six cyclic push-over tests on full scale models of concentric braced steel frame structures were conducted. Furthermore, a 3D finite element (FE) shell model, incorporating state-of-the-art tools and techniques in numerical simulation, was developed that successfully replicates the response of gusset plate and bracing members under fully reversed cyclic axial loading. Direct measurements from strain gauges applied to the physical models were used primarily to validate FE models, while comparisons of hysteresis load-displacement loops from physical and numerical models were used to highlight the overall performance of the FE models. The study shows the two design methods attain structural response as per the design intentions; however, the elliptical clearance method has a superiority over the standard linear method as a fact of improving detailing of the gusset plates, enhancing resisting capacity and improving deformability of a CBF structure. Considerations were proposed for improvement of guidelines for detailing gusset plates and bracing members in CBF structures.