SmartStop Storage Facility, Toronto, Ontario

Residential development continues to expand in southern Ontario. Today’s trend is higher-density communities in areas surrounding urban centers and connected to our major transportation infrastructure. Redevelopment and intensification means smaller living spaces.

The decreased size of some units has created the need for custom furniture and appliances to optimize the utility of the living space. As residential development intensifies it also drives demand for off-site storage facilities.

Like residential development, storage facilities need to be located close to their customers near urban centers. Competing for building lots with residential development can be challenging, which can push the location of these projects to lands that are less desirable to residential developers. The available sites can often face common foundation challenges such as structurally poor soil conditions and elevated levels of contaminants from previous land use.

Storage facilities can have higher slab loads and some are built with multiple storeys, which can create challenges to the project team when selecting an appropriate and cost-effective foundation support system.

Clients are frustrated that there is little control over project costs with traditional approaches such as massive over-excavation or intensive deep foundation systems, particularly on structurally or environmentally challenging soil sites. Extra costs due to unknown volumes of soil or pile depths, delays due to weather conditions, and long regulatory delays can slow down construction and inflate project costs.

The SmartStop Self Storage project located on Centennial Road in Toronto, Ontario, involved the construction of two-storey storage buildings. Challenged by an upper layer of loose sand/silt fill soil with occasional organics, the project team needed to determine an effective foundation support solution. Concerns over the risks of increased cost and schedule delays for over-excavation, the project team opted for a Geopier solution delivered by Ontario’s most experienced ground improvement contractor.

The Geopier system was installed using a displacement mandrel and 30 tons of direct vertical crowd pressure augmented by vertical ramming energy to create stiff columns of compacted granular surrounded by improved soil. The unique vertical crowd and ramming energy of the Geopier installation method provides greater capacity and settlement control compared to other aggregate-based reinforcement systems which rely on horizontal vibrations. For this project, the very loose fill soils were reinforced to deliver an improved bearing capacity of 200 kPa at Serviceability Limit States (SLS).

GeoSolv provided cost and schedule certainty to the client and the system was deemed cost effective even though the fill thickness (the problem soil) was relatively thin. It was the risk of the unknowns in the excavation of the fill that created the opportunity for innovation using GeoSolv’s turnkey soil reinforcement systems.

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