Innovative Use of Precast Segmental-Concrete Foundations at a U.S. Government Facility in a Remote Arctic International Location

September 29, 2013
Publication: 2013 PCI Convention and National Bridge Conference
Author(s): Cory Brett Scott DiFiore Dominic Kelly Cheever, Paul J.

Abstract: Several logistical challenges confronted the project team while designing a radar facility (building and radar tower) for the U.S. Government in the remote arctic. Procurement of construction materials in the U.S., delivery to Greenland, limited availability of construction equipment, and a restrictive three-month construction season all contributed to a complex engineering and construction project. For foundation construction, traditional cast-in-place-concrete construction was not possible given the lack of batch plants near the remote site. Specialty foundation systems were not an option due to the cost of mobilizing specialty equipment and materials. Precast segmental-concrete foundation elements were the solution: a mat foundation for the radar tower and spread footings for an ancillary radar support building. To accelerate the erection schedule, the design engineers engaged a domestic precaster to cast the foundation segments in Massachusetts and truck them to a port in Norfolk, Virginia. From there, the segments were loaded onto a cargo ship that carried supplies to the project area once a year from the United States. The segments had to be small enough to fit into shipping containers, light enough for site cranes to manipulate, and behave as a cohesive foundation system once installed. Using a combination of grouted splice sleeves and post-tensioning techniques, the contractor completed foundation construction within the short summer construction season. This case study shows how the U.S.-based design engineers worked creatively and successfully with a domestic precaster and a foreign contractor to provide a solution that satisfied the project’s many technical and logistical challenges.

Services: Structural Design