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Major Kelowna projects prompt piling innovation

Russell Hixson
Major Kelowna projects prompt piling innovation
MISSION GROUP — A rendering shows the design of Bernard Block, a three-tower project in downtown Kelowna being developed by Mission Group.

Kelowna’s skyline is going to change dramatically in the coming years thanks to several major projects, including Bernard Block.

The three-tower project is currently doing pile drilling work on the final towers, which include a residential tower and an office building.

“Kelowna has certainly seen a transition in recent years,” said Luke Turri, executive vice-president for the project’s developer Mission Group. “It’s becoming a more and more attractive destination for people to reside full-time.”

Turri said in the past the city and the Okanagan region have been a hotspot for vacationers, tourists and retirees, but has recently been developing into a major urban centre.

“The entrepreneurial spirit has grown, the tech sector here has grown and more and more, as people are moving to a hybrid work environment, you are seeing high quality of life being a major factor in where people choose to live.”

Turri said the city is now able to offer many of the amenities other major urban centres do but with the mountains and lake just minutes away.

And with more major projects, comes innovation.

Turri explained the Bernard Block project will mark several firsts.

Mission Group is working with Soletanche Bachy Canada to implement cutting edge technology that makes pile work quieter. The piles for the project will be among the deepest ever drilled in Canada.

Historically, deep foundations in Kelowna have been constructed using driven steel pipe piles. Large diameter steel pipes are driven into the ground using large cranes or vibratory hammers. Driven steel piles have been an acceptable method in deep foundations for decades, but the arrival of bigger, taller buildings in the Okanagan now require a more innovative approach.

The project team is using an alternative piling method called Continuous Flight Auger (CFA).

“The auger drills into ground and as that auger comes out it is replaced with a concrete pile. Instead of driving you are removing soil with the auger head and replacing it with a pile,” said Turri.

The project team had to have auger heads custom made in the United Kingdom for the drilling.

Turri said large-scale drilling can disrupt neighbourhoods during the heavy and noisy steel piling process.

Typical rigs used on Canadian soil have maximum drill depths around 30 metres.

The piles at Mission Group’s residential and commercial complex will reach drill depths of 52 metres in a single pass. The process is expected to take three months. The entire project is expected to take three years.

“To make that all happen and work with building design, we certainly had to co-ordinate substantially with our structural engineer Glotman Simpson as well as Tetra Tech, our consultant,” said Turri. “Between all of us we co-ordinated efforts with the testing and design required.”


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Recent Comments (1 comments)

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James Webb Image James Webb

We were excited to participate in this project and assist with the value engineering. CFA piling offers several advantages over steel piling, including less vibration, less noise, less schedule lead time, lower carbon footprint, and in this case lower cost!


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