Western Carolina University

Bearing Capacity Increased With Vibratory Stone Columns and Tension Loads Resisted With Uplift Anchors at Western Carolina University’s New STEM Building

Ground Improvement – Installing Aggregate Piers/Vibratory Stone Column & Uplift Anchors

The Problem

Construction of a new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) building at Western Carolina University (WCU) required outside-the-box thinking to provide a ground improvement solution before construction could begin. Due to the high dead and live loads on the proposed building, the CNC Foundations team was tasked with both designing and building a ground-improvement system that would achieve an excess of 8,000 psf while allowing less than 1 in. of total settlement. In addition, the job site had very large retaining walls along the existing slope with vertical column loads, all of which required a robust vibratory stone
column (VSC) scope.

Our Solution

“Our in-house engineering team was able to design and build a cost-effective vibratory stone column solution, which was verified by several full-scale modulus tests throughout the site,” CNC Foundations President Jason Courtney says. “We incorporated uplift anchors into the vibratory stone column design in order to reduce and take away the net tension load on these shear walls.”

CNC Foundation’s VSC rigs are outfitted with computer monitoring systems that are unique in the marketplace. Its particular data logger shows the number of piles, the time it took to install the piles, and the bar pressure achieved on every lift. “Our computer monitoring system is another method of checks and balances, which then allows us to move through the schedule of the project a little quicker,” Courtney says. “This gives a general contractor and an engineer of record peace of mind throughout the project, accelerates schedules, and better utilizes dollars.”

The Results

CNC Foundations successfully installed VSCs while keeping the project on schedule. Construction of the new STEM building entailed staged demolition of the current building followed by construction of a multistoried facility with 185,000 sq ft of lab and classroom space. The project was phased to allow the laboratories in the existing building to stay operational until they were relocated to Phase I of the new building.

The new building will feature state-of-the-art lab equipment, collaborative space, and the inclusion of a steam micro-plant to carry capacity for up to four of the university’s buildings, thus taking capacity load off of WCU’s aging steam plant. Project completion is on track for November 2021. Once the labs were relocated, the remainder of the building was demolished for the construction of Phase II.

Project Details

CNC Foundations provides ground improvement services; either vibratory stone columns, vibratory concrete columns, earthquake drains and or concrete modular columns in the Southeast. We have a new location based in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. This particular location services Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama and we are proud to be continuing that growth by working at Western Carolina University.

Not sure what geotechnical solution can work for your job? We can help.

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