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Drilling begins to tap renewable energy source, build solid foundation

Drilling begins to tap renewable energy source, build solid foundation

Demolition is done and concrete crushing complete.

The 1063 Block Replacement Project team is ready to begin installation of the new building's structural foundation and geothermal heating system.

The soils underneath the construction site are soft and will not provide adequate support for the building without the installation of a special structural system to augment the building's foundation. The project team is using a Geopier® system to enhance the foundation, which entails drilling a thousand, 24-inch shafts 30 to 40 feet deep into the ground.

To install the system, a hole is drilled and the soil removed. Then, dense crushed rock is compacted into the drilled hole, which expands into the adjacent soil. The expansion increases the strength and weight-bearing capacity of the soil and reduces settlement of the new building.

Geothermal heating

Next to the Geopier shafts the construction team will drill additional holes deep into the earth – to a depth of 300 feet – to install a GeoWell and vertical loop system. This system uses solar energy stored beneath the earth's surface to help heat a building in the fall, winter and spring, and to draw warm air out of it in the summer by injecting the heat injected into the wells.

Constructing the system involves drilling 30, 6-inch diameter "wells" 300 feet into the ground, with a one-inch diameter tube connected to each well. The tubes transfer the heat to and from the building, depending on the season. The installation of both below-grade systems is scheduled to begin in late November and be completed by February 2016.

More information about the Geopier® and GeoWell systems is available on the project website.

Building tenants

The state Office of Financial Management (OFM) recently completed a review of the prospective tenants for the new office building, as directed by the 2015 Legislature. Lawmakers had called on OFM to re-evaluate the previously selected building tenants with a goal of ensuring the maximum efficiency of the space used in the new building. As a result of the analysis, OFM has determined that the 1063 tenants will be:

  • Washington State Patrol employees now housed at the General Administration (GA) and Pacific Avenue buildings.
  • Office of the State Treasurer employees currently housed at the Capital Court building.
  • OFM employees now working at the GA and Plum Street buildings including Gov. Inslee's Results Washington program.
  • Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee.
  • Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program Committee.
  • Joint Legislative Systems Committee.

Prior to the completion of the July 2015 architectural design drawings, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and the Office of the State Actuary withdrew as prospective tenants.

Read more of the OFM report.

Street closure remains in effect

Columbia Street between 11th Avenue and Union Avenue remains closed – for a trial period suggested by the city of Olympia – until mid-January. The street is closed for public safety due to the nearby construction work and truck traffic. Hopefully the city will decide to keep the section closed until the project is completed in fall 2017.

Keep watching

There is a camera mounted on the roof of the GA Building pointed at the construction site and images are refreshed every 15 minutes. To watch the rapid progress of the project, go to the 1063 project website.

The 1063 Block Replacement Project team demolished two state-owned structures on the block bordered by Capitol Way, 11th Avenue, Union Avenue and Columbia Street and is now preparing for the construction of a five-story, 215,000 square-foot office building. The new building is scheduled to be completed by fall 2017.

Send written comments and questions about the project to: