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Historic Building Converted From Bowling Alley to Upscale Lofts Using Helical Piles

A former bowling alley in a historic building is given new life as an upscale mixed-use building, helical piles help the vision come to life


Concord Projects


Technical Underpinning for Major Commercial Renovation/Overhaul

Pile Details

● 45,600 lb (202 kN), 4-1/2" Ø shaft, 16" single helix● 23,700 lb (105 kN), 3-1/2" Ø shaft, single 12" helix


45 kip [198 kN] ULS, f.

Key Challenges

● Very Tight Access● Dense Urban Job Site● Historic Building w/ Construction Restrictions● Technical Foundation Repair & Underpinning● Indoor Piling Operations

Side view of large excavator installing helical pile inside commercial building. Versapile employee monitoring installation
Side view of large excavator inside commercial building
Side view of large excavator installing helical pile inside commercial building


VersaPile was engaged during the RFP stage to help Concord Projects, Crosier Kilgour & Partners. and Wood PLC. find a way to install piles to support the owner's plans for massive renovations to a historic building.
Once an upscale theater in the 1920's, the building in question had been converted to bowling lanes in the 1960's. Now, the design build team at Concord Projects had been tasked to turn the structure into modern mixed retail and condominiums.
The building itself was (and still is) designated as a heritage building by the City of Winnipeg. This meant there were a large number of restrictions on the types of construction activity and changes that could take place.
Preliminary designs called for 150 kip (660 kN) per pile. Due to the space constraints and site sensitivity to vibration, driven piles were not considered feasible. Open caisson piles were not affordable due to layers of rumble and sand in the overburden as well as extra costs to remove soil.


Building a condominium from scratch requires a detailed approach. Designing and building a condominium to occupy a heritage building shell from an iconic 1920's theatre is especially challenging. Only the most subtle of changes were permitted be made to the exterior of this landmark building. Even large holes in the roof were off limits.

VersaPile worked with Wood PLC (Geotechnical) and SMP Services (Pile Engineer) to come up with a pile robust enough to:

● Handle the column strength requirements for the loads● Penetrate the till● Provide enough surface area to the soil to adequately distribute the load
Crosier Kilgour & Partners (CKP) offered structural engineering services for Concord Projects and used the feedback from Wood PLC and VersaPile to design 3 and 4 pile groups to allow 4-1/2" shaft helical piles with 16" Ø bearing blades to be installed to refusal on glacial till. For each pile torque and depth was documented.

The depth to firm till varied between 33' and 40' from grade in the portion of the building to be piled with the 4-1/2" Ø shaft piles. The main construction access point was a 9'x10' opening in the brick work between masonry columns. Our 30-ton excavator needed to install 117 of the largest piles would barely fit through the opening.

Piling activity resembled a dance, as a skid steer loaded piles for the larger excavators while also staying clear of excavated pits. Overburden was rife with construction debris and unmarked building structures, which created problems with placement accuracy. VersaPile coordinated with the team at Concord to work through with CKP (EOR).

Larger piles were installed to a torque of 20.4 kip-ft [27.6 kN-m] to confirm that the helical had installed into the dense till. The process was observed by a Wood representative who verified site observations against the torque logs.

Unfortunately, our large excavators were too heavy to drive over the 1920's era concrete vestibule floor. Four (4) of the piles required the crowd of these machines for the design loads, but there was no access. VersaPile drove our 30T excavator to the edge of the floor and reached over to install piles through 12" Ø holes pre-cut in the vestibule floor.

The piles planned to go under the original vestibule of the heritage theatre presented a different problem.

Access was limited to a single elevator shaft opening. VersaPile worked with the project engineers to devise a pile solution that would work in the limited access environment. The solution was to bring in a Mr. Boomtruck-supplied spider crane and operator to lower a Kubota U-17 into the basement through the elevator shaft. VersaPile crews could then install these piles to 7.4 kip-ft (11.4 kN-m).

Crane reaching down to basement of historic building. Versapile employee monitoring

This photo is from a different project, but is similar to the type of conditions VersaPile's crews faced

Versapile employees in tight corridors in basement of historic site

This photo is from a different project, but is similar to the type of conditions VersaPile's crews faced

Versapile employee working in basement of historic building

This photo is from a different project, but is similar to the type of conditions VersaPile's crews faced

Front of historic building after project  has been completed


In total, it took our dedicated install crews just 24 days to install all 141 helical piles in this unique and demanding project. With very few changes to the initial design and zero notable delays, the difficult foundation installation was complete.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the professionals at Concord Projects, Crosier Kilgour & Partners, Wood PLC, SMP Services, and our team at VersaPile, this century-old building received a new lease on life.
Other foundation solutions for this project would have been too expensive, too dangerous, or too difficult to install. In fact, without a helical pile solution it's very possible this project may not have happened.

Contact Us


2046 Van Gorp Road
Ile Des Chenes, MB
Canada R0A 0T0


Monday - Friday8:00 - 17:00


(234) 567-8900moc.elipasrev%40olleh

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