Title: Tallest Building in the Texas Medical Center: St. Luke's Medical Tower
Author(s): E. J. Ulrich Jr., and C. J. Ehlers
Publication: Symposium Paper
Appears on pages(s): 219-244
Keywords: mat foundation; piers; piles; slurries; Design
The St. Luke's Medical Tower is the Texas Medical Center's tallest building and Houston's tallest building to open the 1990s. The combination of the following unique foundation features reduced development costs by over $1,000,000: (1) tallest soil-supported building on shallow foundations in the Southwest; (2) temporary dewatering system designed to function as the permanent system; (3) excavation-bracing system designed to form the permanent basement wall and only individual braces were temporary; (4) basement walls esigned to accept loads from future contiguous towers; (5) drilled pier soldier piles installed with polymer drilling fluid (the first use on a major Texas project); and (6) drill pier soldier piles installed in accordance with the new American Concrete Institute Standard Specification for the Construction of Drilled Piers (ACI 336.1-89), the first known use of the specification. The factored load condition was considered fictional in foundation, and basement wall design in that factored load-concrete-subgrade compatibility was not achieved. Significant cost savings was achieved by allowing the geotechnical engineer to be part of the design team beginning with project concept studies and extending throughout underground construction. The geotechnical engineer and the team developed feasible foundation schemes that could be integrated into construction needs, instead of relying only on specialty design builders.