Confirmation Of Composite Ground Design Using Field Plate Tests
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Jan 1, 2011
In response to a solicitation for ground improvement for the construction of a new hospital in Owensboro, Kentucky, the team of Berkel & Company Contractors and Dan Brown and Associates PC designed and installed lightly reinforced cast-in-place piles (known commercially as Cast-in place Ground improvement Elements or CGEs) as part of a composite ground system. The concept of the design is that the structure load is shared between the piles and the soil subgrade. The load sharing is controlled (to some degree) by the placement of a cushion between the pile head and the bottom of the overlying spread foundation. In an effort to confirm the design principles and to better understand the behavior of composite ground, the design-build team performed plate load tests on ground with a single CGE and with a group of CGEs. The small plate test (on ground with a single CGE) characterized the stiffness of the cushion. The large plate tests showed that the cushion will distribute the applied load to the CGEs and to the soil subgrade between the CGEs. On the basis of the plate tests, it was concluded that the plate stiffness can influence the test results. The use of a concrete layer was effective at supplementing the plate stiffness. The cushion was shown to be an important component of a composite ground system by allowing mobilization of the soil subgrade resistance and avoiding a stress concentration at the tops of the CGEs that would otherwise be present if the spread foundation and piles were rigidly connected. Because the composite ground system engages the resistance of the soil subgrade, the structural demand is reduced and consequently there is a potential for savings when compared to a conventional pile foundation. Several foundations for the new Owensboro hospital are being monitored for vertical movement during construction of the superstructure that will extend through 2011. At the time of this paper (mid 2011) the settlement of the foundations due to only part of the structural load (primarily the structural steel) has been negligible.