Richmond International Airport

Richmond, VA



A 270,000 sf, two-story terminal building consisting of six baggage claim carousels, seven rental car counters and 12 ticketing stations as well as renovations of the existing single-story terminal into a baggage make-up area.


The site is underlain by a 4 to 12 ft thick layer of clay to clayey and silty sand fill. The fill is underlain by medium-stiff to stiff clay and medium-dense silty sand, sand, and dense gravel. Schnabel Engineering considered multiple strategies, including over-excavation and replacement and concrete piers. Both approaches were complicated by poor soils, buried obstructions, and a compact worksite.


A preliminary foundation layout with Geopier elements suggested it would remove a substantial amount of cost from the project’s intermediate design stage. Based on those findings, Schnabel recommended converting the foundation from piles with pile caps to a Geopier stabilized subgrade supporting conventional spread footings.

626 Geopier elements were installed with lengths ranging from 8 to 18 ft. Work proceeded at a rapid pace despite on-site congestion and hidden obstacles. Paul E. Diggs, P.E., with Schnabel Engineering stated “The Geopier System takes these issues in stride. I was impressed the first time they found concrete. I learned that they just carry on with augering. If it gets oversized, they would backfill the hole and re-auger it. I thought that was pretty intriguing. Obviously, if we were doing a pile installation, we’d probably have to back away, refigure another pile layout, and reengineer the pile cap—and that would slow the project down.”


"Capital Region Airport Commission URS Corporation (Owner's Representative)"


Hunt Construction Group


Gresham Smith and Partners


Draper Aden Associates


Schnabel Engineering South, LLC


Geopier GP3® System