Western Washington University Communications Building and Student Center

In the fall of 2000, Merit Engineering conducted a geotechnical investigation of Western Washington University’s South Campus. The emphasis of the investigation was on determining the strength properties of the bedrock beneath the University upon which the proposed Student Center and Communications Building will be anchored. The student center will be a multi story building with a footprint of 80,000 sq. ft. while the communications building will be 5 stories tall with a two story basement and a footprint of about 100,000 sq. ft. The bedrock was sampled in sixteen locations, with each core being 10′ long.

The rock cores were then analyzed to determine the unconfined and confined compressive strength, shear strength, Young’s modulus, Poisson’s ratio, tensil strength, and were classified using the CSIR Geomechanics Classification of Jointed Rock Masses. The cores were also examined to determine the joint spacings, condition of the joints, dip and strike of the joints, and dip and strike of any visible bedding.

Using the information from our investigation and previous investigation, Merit Engineering was able to accurately map the depth to bedrock under both buildings using 200 data points. With this much data, a precise representation of the subsurface conditions was rendered.

In addition to the subsurface exploration, Merit Engineering designed the foundations for both buildings. Our previous investigations at the university enabled us to conduct the investigation and analysis quickly, efficiently and cost effectively.

Merit Engineering was commissioned to collaborate on this project from pre-construction surface and subsurface investigations through construction phase earthwork observation. Merit performed test borings and Standard Penetration Tests to measure subsurface conditions. Subsurface samples were analyzed in Merit¡¯s laboratory to determine Atterburg Limits, unit weight, moisture content, specific gravity, and consolidation. In addition to modeling elastic and consolidation related foundation settlement, Merit Engineering addressed seismic design parameters, foundation drainage, and pavement design recommendations. Merit Engineering maintained rigorous commitment to this project by providing earthwork observation and inspection and ongoing technical support throughout the construction period. Paramount to the timely completion of this project were the contributions, recommendations, and analysis offered by Merit Engineering.