By Jill Bramblett
Construction applications using helical piles, piers, or tie-backs are often thought to not be as exciting and glamorous as renovating your bathroom with Kohler’s Infinite soaking tub. We see helical piers installed every day in underpinning, new construction, and retaining wall tie-back applications. We know that helical piers are used throughout the world holding up and tying down telephone poles and utility towers. Every now and then, engineers and construction professionals get creative, and we see helical piles used in an array of interesting applications, both below grade and above, supporting some magnificent structures.
One amazing application is the yacht display that was erected in front of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Solid Earth Technologies installed sixteen transition piles (1 ¾” square shaft converting to 3 ½” pipe) to support the keels of two America’s Cup Yachts and eight tension helical anchors for the tie-downs uplift support. The yachts were designed by Rodger Martin Yacht Design of Newport, Rhode Island. Rodger Martin’s engineer designed the foundation allowing the designer to suspend the boats to create a unique perspective for the admiring public. After the exhibit ended, the display was disassembled and travelled to several other museums throughout North America where the display was repeated, helicals included.
In Connecticut, a project installed by Construction Services Unlimited was a helical pile compression and tension design, using cased and grouted piles for an oceanfront house foundation and elevator shaft. No, that elevator was not carrying the homeowners to the many floors of their luxury mansion, but, instead, carrying the owner’s Ferrari collection to the basement where they would stay dry and protected from the elements (we hope!). This unique foundation was designed to work like a bathtub: the basement structure, which was built eight feet below the water table, had to stay dry and in place. The helicals were installed to resist the buoyancy.
In the Bahamas, helical moorings are used to anchor the Norwegian Cruise Line ships between voyages. They are installed deep under the sea by experienced scuba divers who are also installers.
On beautiful Cape Cod, many winding boardwalks are built on helical pile foundations, as well as a unique stairway built down steep dunes to the oceanfront.
Elsewhere, a top-secret submarine simulator is supported by eighteen helical grouted micro-piles in a tension and compression application.
These are just some of the many creative and interesting commercial uses for helical piers. On the residential front, one of the most recent and original uses we have are hammock piers! Perfect for relaxing in the summer sun!
Have you found a creative use for helicals? Submit your pictures and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and be featured!
Jill Bramblett is the Territory Manager for New England for Danbro Distributors. She has been working in the helical pier/construction industry for ten years. Prior to that, she did creative and online marketing in the high-tech industry.
When Jill is not wheeling and dealing deep foundations, she is spending time with her family, hiking, doing yoga or plotting her next house renovation project. For all New England inquiries, please contact Jill at (603) 766-0422 or email@example.com.