Unilever Ice Cream Freezer Warehouse

Project Details:

Owner: Unilever
General Contractor: The Whiting-Turner Contractor Company
Duration of Work: 5 weeks
Subsurface Conditions: Alluvial deposits of clay and silt over sand
Approximate Key Quantities: 375 Controlled Modulus Column (CMC)® rigid inclusions

Project Overview:

This project involved the construction of a new 16,500 square foot cold storage building at an ice cream plant in Memphis, Tennessee. The originally conceived foundation under the rack-supported, insulated building involved a concrete floor slab under the rack legs over a layer of rigid insulation, over a heavy reinforced concrete mat supported on drilled shafts. Under the mat, a heating system was to be installed to keep the ground below the building from freezing under the constant -20°F temperature.

Ground Conditions:

The soils on the site consisted of alluvial deposits of clay and silt over sand that served as a bearing layer between 40 and 70 feet deep. Some additional soil information was obtained using the results of cone penetration tests taken prior to field mobilization to refine the profile of the bearing layer.


Since Controlled Modulus Column (CMC)® Rigid Inclusion designs use a highly compacted mat of dense granular fill (Load Transfer Platform – LTP) to support large flat areas, this concept proved highly effective to replace the structural concrete mat under the insulation. The heated stone layer, the insulation board, and a concrete mat floor were placed above the LTP to support the racking. The economy of the CMC Rigid Inclusion system, and the heat break afforded by the LTP, made both a better performing foundation and an improved design regarding long-term thermal isolation of the ground.

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