NASA John H. Glenn Research Center

Project Details:

Owner: NASA
General Contractor: Marous Brothers Construction
Duration of Work: 8 weeks
Subsurface Conditions: Loose fill and highly compressible organic peat
Approximate Key Quantities: 21,275 Controlled Modulus Columns (CMC)®

Project Overview:

In its continued pursuit of designing and developing innovative technology in aeronautics and space exploration, NASA began the construction of a laboratory facility at the John Glenn Research Center in 2010. Located near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the facility’s main campus features wind tunnels, drop towers, vacuum chambers and a research aircraft hangar.

Included in the project is a proposed three-story framed laboratory and research building in conjunction with the Ares Rocket program. Due to the highly compressible nature of soils at the site, Menard USA was contracted to provide ground improvement – the selected technique was Controlled Modulus Column (CMC)® rigid inclusions. Menard’s solution would support all spread footings (interior and perimeter) and all slabs on grade.

Ground Conditions:

The soil consisted of up to 20 ft of loose fill and highly compressible organic peat


Aggregate piers were originally recommended by the geotechnical engineer for the project, but after multiple meetings, all parties agreed on the installation of CMCs.

Menard’s CMC solution proved to be more economical and time-saving than driven piles or aggregate piers in supporting the building’s footings due to the required high bearing capacity. A total of 870 CMCs were installed to an average depth of 15 ft and a maximum depth of 22 ft. Menard designed a layout of CMCs at each footing to support the building’s column loads. The design provided for 1 in of post-construction settlement with a differential settlement of less than a 1/2 in, meeting the performance criteria of the building.

This project was among the first in which Menard used a more portable mast attachment supported by an excavator as opposed to the conventional crawler rig set up. The mast attachment allows for a more nimble set up and brought savings in mobilization costs to the project.

Menard completed the work for this three-story building on schedule, while meeting all requirements with respect to quality and safety.

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