The headquarters for Garmin International is located in Olathe, Kansas. The company specializes in GPS technology for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor, and fitness activities. Their headquarters building has been exhibiting settlement issues in recent years. Wayne Davis, a structural engineer with Bob D. Campbell and Co., was asked to assess the issues and develop a long-term solution.
It was essential to formulate a plan to reverse any structural instability that had taken place and adequately support the structure. Doing this work would take almost a complete gutting of both the interior and exterior of the affected areas. The building needed to be brought back to its original look and feel once the retrofit was complete. Some of the most concerning settlement was 4”-6” below the original grade, and it was necessary to lift the building as much as the structure would allow during the repair.
The exterior load-bearing grade beam foundation and column footings would need to be underpinned to allow as much support as possible, keeping the structure from settling in the future. All of this needed to be done as quickly as possible due to Garmin’s tremendous growth. The loss of office space was not optimal for the long term.
Since this section of the building was part of the original footprint, it was essential to Garmin to keep this structure intact and useable while maintaining its original look.
Under the direction of Mr. Davis, the engineer of record, Garmin engaged the services of Thrasher Commercial to undertake this structural repair. He designed a specific strategy, and Thrasher commissioned a repair plan devised by structural engineer Dan Packard P.E. of Packard Engineering. Mr. Davis approved the final project that used a piering system manufactured by Supportworks Inc. Each pier and their specific locations were calculated beforehand to get the lifting and support results that were required.
The existing adjacent interior and the exterior had to be entirely gutted, including removing the interior and exterior concrete slabs and the original glass curved front of the building. Garmin brought in McCownGordon Construction to partner with Thrasher for this process. Both companies had to work in concert to be sure that the process went smoothly.
Working on a building that is a functioning workspace presents some challenges. Directly above the work area were conference rooms that were in use during the workday. Brent Foreman, Thrasher Production Manager, said, “We had to keep noise to a minimum even if that meant focusing on parts of the job that were less noisy during business hours.” Also, they worked near an entryway and pedestrian traffic areas.
In all, they retrofitted a deep foundation system with a total of 81, 288s push piers, and 350s slab bracket pier placements. Each of the supported column pads was engineered to withstand a load of more than 53-68,000 pounds.
Like any project of this size, challenges were met, including tight access and several differences between existing footings in place versus what was on the original construction drawings. Despite that, structural engineer Dan Packard deemed Thrasher’s work on the project as accurate, timely and flexible: “The Thrasher project staff worked hard and communicated with me well. I could tell they cared about getting things done right.”
After approximately 25 days on the project, including mobilizations, the structure was stabilized and lifted. At that time, the newly solid structure was handed over to McCownGordon to bring it all back to its original look with some freshly remodeled interior additions.
“Having the right system and the right piering solution to meet the needs of the way the building was constructed is key. Plus, it is important to meet the needs of the engineer, the GCs, and most importantly, the client,” said Kevin Lakey, Thrasher Solutions Specialist & Project Lead. “Now, Garmin can rest assured that this part of their original building history will remain sound in the future.”
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