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NARA Federal Records Center

Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Client/Owner: The Molasky Group of Companies
Services: Geotechnical, Construction Materials Testing, Non-destructive Testing

The National Archives and Records Administration, working through the General Services Administration, began the design of a new building for its National Personnel Records Center in 2007. When completed the $115 Million facility is 474,690 sf and includes public research rooms, an archival preservation laboratory, public meeting rooms, staff offices, and office space for 14 other federal government and defense agencies and has 8-acres of warehouse space including storage for over 80 million civilian and military personnel files. The design includes strict standards for fire prevention, security, temperature and humidity control, air filtration, is LEED Certified and is the largest U.S. records facility outside of Washington D.C. This facility replaces an older facility at 9700 Page Avenue in St. Louis.

Scope of services:

  • Preliminary then full subsurface exploration
  • Geotechnical services
  • Non-invasive geophysical surveying to determine seismic site class
  • Construction observation, special inspections and materials testing services including:
    • Grading
    • Wick drain installation
    • Stone column installation
    • Foundation
    • Concrete
    • Structural steel
    • Fire-proofing
    • Roofing materials

The project was on a fast-track construction schedule and the site featured numerous challenges which can often result in delayed construction schedules and/or additional site remediation costs, which can ultimately impact a projects’ budget. Site issues included deeper bedrock than anticipated, low plastic, silty and high plastic clays all of which posed several challenges for development due to steep changes in topography, two active drainage ravines, soft, wet soils and a tight construction schedule.

The team addressed quality and strength of soil, high plastic clays, seismic site class, grading and reuse of site soils, stability of regraded slope, and global stability of retaining walls by developing a combined method solution of a vertical wick drainage system and lime treatment. This included approximately 4,000 wick drains and 3,000 tons of lime opposed to having to remove much of the soil and replacing it with imported granular material. This would have involved considerable haul off of on-site soils and import of crushed rock.

The implementation of this solution resulted in reduction of construction time by roughly nine to twelve months and the remediated soils allowed the 8 acres of warehouse structure and two-acres of office building to be supported on shallow foundations on ground that was strengthened with stone columns. The use of this type of foundation saved the client additional expense over a deep foundation, which could have cost almost four times more.

Developer: Barry Real Estate Companies, Inc. of Atlanta and The Molasky Group of Las Vegas
Construction company: Joint venture of Tarlton Construction Company of St. Louis and Hardin Construction of Atlanta
Lead architectural firm: HKS, Inc. of Dallas
ACEC 2012 Honorary Award Winner