Axalta Coating Systems, Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Overview: Axalta Coating Systems Inc. brought an estimated $70 million global research and development facility to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The two-story building totaling 175,000 square feet serves as Axalta’s “Global Innovation Center.” The project was developed by Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners. GeoStructures was retained by Liberty Property Trust to perform the geotechnical investigation to characterize the subsurface conditions for foundation design and construction. 

GeoStructures identified two subsurface factors governing the geotechnical design: (1) buried remnant foundations with loose existing fill and (2) consolidation settlement of the underlying soft silt. Upon performing geochemical analysis and numerous consolidation tests on the silt, a feasible site remediation plan was developed. This plan consisted of proof-rolling to densify the existing loose fill and preloading to induce consolidation of the soft silt prior to construction. The need for costly piles was thus eliminated and, instead, conventional shallow foundations were used.

An average of 12ft-high surcharge fill was placed on site and left to settle for approximately 6 months. During this period, the ground settlement and pore pressure in the silt layer were continuously monitored. Once the preloading was confirmed to have achieved its intended objectives, the surcharge was cut back to the proposed subgrade and building construction began.

In addition to conducting infiltration testing in relation to proposed stormwater facilities, GeoStructures was awarded the construction inspection and materials testing for the project. The scopes of inspection work included earthwork and subgrade, cast-in-place concrete, structural steel, and fireproofing.


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