Aquarium

Projects: Go Fish

Geotechnical Engineering

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Situation

Build the world’s largest aquarium; one that would hold more aquatic life than any other and accommodate millions of visitors a year. Here would live beluga whales and whale sharks — never before housed in an aquarium beyond Asia. The largest collection of other aquatic species would reside here too, in eight million gallons of water housed in 100,000 cubic yards of concrete infrastructure. The challenge: how to build these hard assets atop 80 feet of soft soils? ATC drilled for answers.

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Results

Retained by the aquarium’s developers to conduct geotechnical exploration, develop foundation system recommendations and test construction materials, ATC discovered highly variable subsurface conditions beneath the ten-acre site, including soft soils to depths of more than 80 feet overlying bedrock. We got to work, helping the client increase the load capacity of deep pile foundations by 40% and reduce total construction costs by $1 million. ATC designed a pile load testing program that included state-of-the-art electronic strain gauges in the test piles: a system that reduced the quantity of piles without compromising safety. Construction field testing was conducted within an intensive Special Inspection (IBC 2000) program. ATC also provided recommendations for deficiencies observed during onsite steel erection.