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St. Louis Art Museum Goldsworthy Arch

Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Client: Magnuson Klemencic Associates
Owner: St. Louis Art Museum
Services: Non-destructive Testing

Geotechnology recently received an unusual but important request to perform seismic testing on one of the new sculptures planned at the St. Louis Art Museum.

The St. Louis Art Museum has commissioned world-renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy to construct a number of stone arches on the museum grounds. Each 10-foot tall, free-standing limestone arch will be constructed with strategically cut 1,000-pound stones without mortar. Because St. Louis is in a seismically active zone, there was a concern regarding how the arches might respond to an earthquake.

The art museum’s structural engineer, Mr. Leif Johnson of Magnuson Klemencic Associates, consulted with Geotechnology to evaluate the feasibility of applying an approximately 1 ton load in two directions at the top of the arch. However, the test had to be done without drilling into or damaging the stones. To accomplish this, Geotechnology designed a special steel frame with a clamping apparatus. The load was applied using a cable attached to the apparatus and a tow truck as the reaction force. The load was measured using an in-line load cell in the cable. Arch deflections were measured using calibrated dial gauges.

The test was successfully conducted on a mock-up at the Earthworks Quarry in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. While some deflection was measured, the movements were acceptably small.