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Geofoam Shores Up Hillside Project on College Campus

After choosing the ideal site for a new student center, project managers resolve slope stability issues with the help of geofoam.

Facing a slope stability problem while planning the multimillion-dollar construction of a new student center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., the project's designers and contractors decided against using soil, sand or rock as fill material for concrete perimeter walls and instead opted for geofoam.

The project was designed by BLDD Architects who worked closely with the college to identify an optimum location for the center. However the location decided upon also presented serious construction challenges because it was on a hillside.

The building, named the Center for Student Life, was designed as an addition to the existing library building, which sits on top of a steep hill.

According to the lead structural engineer, Eric Reinsch, "Because the addition was so close to the hill, engineers were concerned that there would be a slope stability issue." To shore up the site, perimeter walls were needed.

"We had four concrete perimeter walls about 16 feet high," said Casey Adamson of Centennial Contractors. "We had been looking at fill materials, specifically soil, sand, smooth rock, and geofoam."

According to Adamson, the soil and sand would have to have been machine compacted. Geofoam would not.

"ACH Foam Technologies sent Dale Mullikin to our site before we began the project," Adamson stated. "Our number one concern was not to compromise the structural integrity of the concrete perimeter walls."

According to Adamson, geofoam was the best choice for alternative fill materials and the least expensive.

John Whitlock of BLDD Architects explained, "The use of geofoam allowed the design team to implement the college's vision without compromising the program, function or aesthetics. Without geofoam, a major redesign might well have been necessary."

Preliminary work on the $20 million construction and renovation project began in March of 2012. Project completion is expected by August 1, 2013.

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August 23, 2019, 1:41 pm PDT

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