Before embarking on any construction project, it is essential that you ensure you have access to all the necessary expertise and on-site quality control. Often, a big part of this expertise and quality control can come from geotechnical engineers, yet many owners and contractors neglect this facet of structure design. This is not entirely surprising, as geotechnical engineering is something that many people have never even heard of. The first question you may be asking yourself is:
What is geotechnical engineering?
Geotechnical engineering is, quite simply, the aspect of engineering that deals with the composition and nature of the ground you are building on. This can include things like soil composition, but also covers the design of man-made hills or retaining walls, foundations, roads, tunnels, levees, and wharves. Basically, any time your structure is interacting with the ground (or is made of the ground), you are dealing in geotechnical engineering.
Where Can I See Examples of It?
While geotechnical engineering is important in all building projects, its true power can be seen more clearly in certain places. John Lautner’s stunning Chemosphere, perched on its 5-foot wide column of concrete is a wonder of geotechnical engineering, which is what keeps it from sliding away down the Hollywood Hills. On a more mundane level, geotechnical engineering is what enables the supports of bridges to stand on the sea floor, designs the tunnels we use to get to work every day, and is responsible for every highway embankment that doesn’t crumble.
How Can it Help My Project?
Since we have yet to create any structure with the capacity for levitation, solid geotechnical construction is vital to a solid structure. A geotechnical engineer can provide expertise in many areas such as earthquake engineering, deep excavation, the particular needs of building on unusual soils such as clay, sand, or soft rock, the stability of slopes (both natural and man-made) and more. Of course, the needs of your particular project may vary, but no matter what the ultimate goal, geotechnical engineering plays some part in it.
Geotechnical engineering firms can also offer specialized help and equipment to a project. They can provide equipment for pumping, soil mixing, or deep excavation, as well as specialized instruments for material monitoring. In addition, most geotechnical firms offer on-site supervision and quality control. From start to finish, they are able to keep an eye on your project and offer expert advice and quality control. Whether it is by providing specialized equipment, or by being able to inform you of potential difficulties before they arise, geotechnical engineers have the expertise needed to make your project a success.
Where can I find a geotechnical engineer?
Geotechnical engineers are a hot commodity. The demand for people with this specialized expertise is on the rise, as more and more people realize the utility of it for the success of their projects. Many work as freelancers, but geotechnical engineering firms are also increasing in number. These firms offer a greater amount of flexibility and resources than an individual engineer can provide on their own. They can offer more equipment, and a greater variety of options to the contractor or owner hiring them.
Geotechnical engineering is essential to any construction project, though more obviously to some than others. By bringing these expert advisors into your project, you can ensure your own quality will rise. Their particular ability to offer on-site help and advice will be a huge service to your project, as their unique ability to work with your building site will help you increase your success and avoid problems that might pop up.