Nationals Park, home to Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, is located in Southeast Washington, south of the Capitol on the Anacostia River. The $611 million project redefined modern sports facility architecture and sparked mixed-use development in the District’s Capitol Riverfront area. It also broke new ground as the first major stadium in the country to receive LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 41,000-seat facility took 23 months to construct.

Working directly for the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, which was later absorbed by the Washington Convention Center Authority, Schnabel was responsible for the geotechnical investigation and subsurface exploration of the site, which revealed layers of fill and old bricks from the 1800s at up to 14 feet below grade, and trash and fill over it. Our investigation also included groundwater sampling and testing, which identified petroleum hydrocarbon contamination and 28 unknown underground storage tanks.

Based on our findings, we recommended deep foundations to support the structure and a groundwater drainage blanket below the playing field with a separate collection and treatment system for contaminated groundwater. Our design and construction recommendations for foundations, drainage, and retaining walls were incorporated within the construction documents.

During the foundation alternative design study, we identified various factors—soft subgrades, contaminated fill removal and replacement, and difficulty in obtaining borrow fill—that would add to the construction cost. Our approach to alleviating some of these obstacles cut costs by about $300,000.