Vision 2020: A Look Back on Our First Geopier Projects

 In Feature Articles

As we move into 2020, we look back on a few of our first projects, projects that put us on the map for ground improvement throughout Ontario.  – Mark Tigchelaar

Humber College Retaining Wall

The first project was with my dear friend Ivan of GeoTerre who took a chance on GeoSolv, a brand-new start-up,  and chose us to support a retaining wall at Humber College in North Etobicoke – The Green Retaining Wall at the Humber College Centre for Urban Ecology.  A large project title, for certain…  but not a particularly large project.  Nevertheless, it was still a very important one, as it represented the first time a Geopier system was ever used in Ontario or anywhere in Canada for that matter.  The soil profile of this first project was a sand to clayey silt fill 4.5m thick with mixed organics.  The structure was a 3.65m high MSE Wall with an adjacent hardscape wall. Utilizing the Geopier GP3 system, we put 30 Geopier elements into the footprint of the wall to reinforce the soils to improve the bearing capacity, decrease settlement, and increase the factor of safety to acceptable levels.

Today the wall is performing well, many years later – proof positive that the Geopier systems can handle adverse soil conditions for many applications and perform exceptionally well in the long-term.  I’d like to thank Ivan and the rest of the team (Taylor Hazell Architects and JD Strachan Construction) for the faith they placed in GeoSolv to design-build this Geopier system.  “GeoSolv delivered on a cost-effective system that is still performing beautifully. GeoSolv effectively worked through a soil problem that cropped up late in the project – one that needed immediate attention” – Said Doug Fiorini, then of JD Strachan. Download the Project Summary here.

Go Transit Bus MSF

The second project was a design-build project that we were starting to work on with the Buttcon team around the same time we started the Humber College project.  Our good friend Renato of Inspecsol (now GHD) brought us into the team because they were faced with a deep fill deposit and a trapped topsoil layer over a large area.  The structure proposed was a bus maintenance and storage facility for GO Transit along with large swaths of exterior rigid concrete pavements, all to be situated where there was over 4+m of undocumented fill and organics.

GeoSolv was proud to have been invited on the team to help the Buttcon team win this important project. Working closely with Renato, Ralf at RJC (structural), Strasman Architects and other team members, we delivered a critical design-build solution that prevented hundreds of trucks from having to haul out the bad fill and bring in good fill, saving both time and money on the project and contributing to several LEED credits helping them achieve LEED Silver. The structure, as expected, is performing perfectly.  The innovative approach that GeoSolv applied to this project led to significant schedule efficiencies during winter months and ultimately led to a high performance slab” stated Tom Goodbody of GO Transit at the time, a key individual on the owner side in the development of the project.  This represented one of GO Transits first forays into Design-Build for their projects, and the Buttcon team has commented that it was one of their best DB projects to date. Download the Project Summary here.

We went from our first job – the retaining wall – a project of less than 30 Geopier elements  to our second job – a 3,000+ Geopier element job, again utilizing the Geopier GP3 system for a major bus garage in just our second year of operation.  A very cool footnote – we went back to put Geopier’s in for an addition on this building many years later!

GeoSolv has the most ground improvement jobs in Ontario and the longest history of Geopier ground improvement installation in Canada. We would like to again thank all of our past and current clients for their ongoing support throughout the years. 

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