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Case Histories


UC Davis Activities & Recreation Center


Farrell grows its ground improvement services and had to end its Geopier licenses, read more.


Foundation System

Geologic Hazard(s)

Soft/Loose Soil


Davis, CA


University of California Davis

Geotechnical Engineer

Structural Engineer

General Contractor

Project Summary

UC Davis upgraded the campus facilities to include a new Activities and Recreation center in 2002.  According to the Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, the university’s long range development plan needed to accommodate an expected student body of 31,000 students by 2015.  The ARC totals 155,000 sq. ft. and houses a conference center, student union, and fitness club.  The site, just north of Pavilion Stadium, has soil conditions consisting of soft clay and loose to medium dense sandy silt and silty sand to depths of about 15 feet.  The new building loads would have required at least 12 feet of excavation and replacement with engineered fill.

Farrell was hired by McCarthy Building Companies Inc. to provide a cost and schedule saving alternate to the excavation and replacement method.  Farrell collaborated with McCarthy and Kleinfelder to solve the settlement problem with the Geopier system, a Rammed Aggregate Pier (RAP).  The RAP system resulted in an increased bearing capacity to 6,400 psf, improved settlement characteristics to less than 1 inch, and provided seismic uplift resistance of 60 kips each.  Farrell also collaborated with the structural and geotechnical engineers to design around existing, stay-in-place, live sewer and gas utilities.  Farrell installed over 500 RAPs to depths of 12 and 15 feet in about three weeks.  UCD realized a cost savings of $300,000 compared to the excavation and replacement method.

The UC Davis ARC project was awarded the “2004 Education Project of the Year” by McGraw Hill. This project was also featured in California Builder and Engineer in April 2003.

From September 1999 to July 2017, Farrell Design-Build designed and constructed aggregate pier systems for its projects under license from the Geopier® Foundation Company and some of these projects are shown here. Any Geopier® project shown is not meant to represent any current affiliation with Geopier Foundation Company. Geopier®, Impact® Pier, and Rammed Aggregate Pier® are registered trademarks of the Geopier® Foundation Company. For more information, please visit Geopier® History.

“Farrell got after this one.  The Geopier installation finished in October; we did our slab on grade in November, and were ready to rock and roll with structural steel on December 16… The Geopier system saved $300,000.”

Dana Metoyer

McCarthy Project Manager