VCU Health System’s Critical Care Hospital provides intensive care to people who are critically injured or critically ill. With 367,000 square feet on 15 floors, it is the largest capital construction project in the history of the system. Schnabel’s solution to its daunting foundation challenges earned us a Grand Award from ACEC Virginia. Those challenges included a steeply sloping site with variable geologic conditions and adjoining buildings nearby.
The dramatic changes in surface grades were matched by the variability of subsurface conditions. This led us to design a 45-foot-deep permanent excavation support system and no less than four different foundation types to accommodate large column loads of over 2,500 tons: single-belled drilled shafts in clay, double-belled drilled shafts in clay, straight-drilled shafts on rock, and auger cast piles on clay.The double-belled shafts, where feasible, enabled us to reduce costs as these shafts produce about 50 percent more capacity than similar single bells.
The double-belled drilled shaft is a distinctive foundation type, first used in the U.S. in 1981 by Schnabel on the adjacent VCU Medical Teaching Hospital.
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