Case Study: UIC New Construction Helical Pier Installation

Helical pier installation is an effective way to stabilize both residential and commercial foundations.

We use helical piers in a variety of projects involving existing buildings, but they also work in new construction.

Read this case study about how we used helical piers to stabilize the foundation of a new medical building at the University of Illinois at Chicago. We’ll discuss what caused the instability in the first place and what we specifically did to fix the issue.

University of Illinois Addition Background

USS was contacted by UIC, a public research facility that traces its beginnings back to the mid-1800s. The university was constructing a large addition to the west wall of one of its medical buildings.

They ran into a challenge when building the new foundation, which included an elevator shaft. Both of these elements would be extremely heavy, and the existing ground failed a soil test. Geotechnical engineers determined the soil couldn’t support the weight.

Before any residential or commercial building can be constructed, geotechnical engineers need to test the ground soil for many factors. Expansive soils cause most foundation damage because they swell or shrink based on water levels. A foundation on this type of soil will begin to crack and could begin to sink unless additional support is installed.

Helical Pier Installation to Support Extreme Foundation Weight

Our team knew that installing helical piers would reinforce the university’s addition.

Helical piers or piles are drilled into the soil like giant screws until they reach proper torque. Then, our team attaches them to the foundation footings. This method can be used in residential or commercial projects, and they’re particularly useful for additions.

We worked in conjunction with the structural engineer for the helical pier installation. Our team installed a triangle pattern of helical piers in the areas where the new foundation would be supported.

Much of the foundation weight came from the new elevator shaft. The area for the shaft was approximately 12 feet below the existing grade on the exterior. We excavated that area and added steel trench boxes to support the soil and prevent the trench from caving in.

Project Results

By the end of this project for UIC, our team of foundation experts had installed round shaft helical piers measuring 2-⅞” in diameter. Each of the piers was installed to a depth ranging from 28-35 feet below the bottom of the elevator shaft in all of the locations.

The results of the helical pier foundation installation were a success. Overall construction on the UIC addition is ongoing, but our team effectively secured the building’s foundation. It will be used to provide medical services to the people living in the Chicago area.

Commercial Helical Piles Installation

From stabilizing factory renovations to new public works projects, United Structural Systems of Illinois, Inc. uses helical piers as a permanent solution to foundation failure.

Call us today at 847-382-2882 if you have any questions about helical pier installation or if you’d like to schedule a free consultation.