Reducing Risk to Adjacent Properties from Underground Utility Construction

In populated areas, underground utilities are the lifeblood of the community. These utilities require periodic maintenance, expansions and replacement. Therefore, underground utility construction is common in cities, suburbs and rural villages alike. Most people notice underground utility construction because of the traffic problems they may cause. However, if you are familiar with geotechnical or geostructural […]

Specialty Foundation Contractors

Richard J. Driscoll, Consulting Engineer offers a holistic approach to specialty foundation engineering and can assist specialty foundation contractors to solve a variety of construction problems.

What’s Wrong with Your Monitoring Plan

Construction, particularly in the urban environment, often exposes nearby structures and facilities to hazards, some of which are difficult to predict precisely and manifest as the work progresses. Impacts of this nature are associated with excavations, tunneling and foundation construction methods, and often require monitoring of potentially impacted structures and facilities. A monitoring program may […]

Nonlinearity and the Foundation Engineer

One of the challenges of real-world engineering problems is the need to predict the behavior of a system which may be complex, dynamic, nonlinear and subject to uncertainty as to loading and response. Foundation problems are a good example of this. The behavior of a foundation is complex; it is a soil structure interaction problem […]

When to Use Soil-Structure Interaction for Excavation Support Design

When structural systems are used to retain in-situ soil during excavation, the resulting soil pressures are difficult to accurately predict. In addition to the uncertainty inherent to soil materials, and the inability to fully measure those properties, the pressures on an excavation support system or permanent foundation elements that similarly retain in-situ soil and any […]

Site-Structural Engineering for the Urban Environment

Having projects in the urban environment representing a large proportion of my career experience, I am always a little surprised when I encounter design professionals and contractors who do not fully appreciate the challenges and constraints associated with building on urban sites. While a lot of design professionals, contractors and other stakeholders have urban project […]

What’s Wrong with Commodity Geotechnical Reports

A couple of weeks ago, I was using a geotechnical report to develop a critical parameter for design of a particular foundation system. Like so many geotechnical reports I see, this report had many of the signs of being the product of commodity geotechnical services, as is often practiced when materials testing agencies offer geotechnical […]

Delaware Earthquake or Earthquakes Can Happen Anywhere

As reported by the United States Geological Survey and various news organizations, a magnitude 4.1 earthquake occurred outside Dover Delaware on November 30, subjecting much of the mid-Atlantic region to weak to light shaking. Assuming the magnitude is not revised down, it would be tied for the largest magnitude earthquake in Delaware history. No damage […]

What Nate Silver Can Teach Engineers

Nate’s Silver’s book, The Signal and the Noise (The Penguin Press, New York, 2012) was released in the run-up to the 2012 election. Silver and the FiveThirtyEight.com project were well on their way to accurately predicting most of the electoral college and Senate results and there was a good deal of interest and controversy in the political media regarding […]

How to Double Your Foundation’s Bearing Capacity

I saw a brief case study from a foundation contractor who had installed a proprietary pile system for a building in Northwest Washington, DC. Being somewhat familiar with the subsurface conditions and typical building heights in the area, I immediately doubted whether a deep foundation system was necessary. You will have to forgive my skepticism […]