Denver — CTL|Thompson, a full-service geotechnical, structural, environmental and materials engineering firm, is now among a prestigious list of top Colorado engineering firms. CTL’s work on behalf of the Regency Athletic Complex at Metropolitan State University of Denver earned ACEC Colorado’s 2016 Grand Conceptor Award, given by a judging panel only when a project represents an engineering feat that is transformative and sets a new standard for the industry in Colorado. The award is not bestowed every year. In this case, ACEC Colorado described the complex as “an all-star in the eyes of the engineering community.”

“This project represents an incredible collaboration of individuals from all sectors — public and private, engineering and construction — who were willing to think creatively for the good of the client, the local community, the city of Denver and the state of Colorado,” said CTL Vice President Marc Cleveland. “We are thankful for our partners, including Metro State, for putting full confidence in the approach we proposed.” 

To help the university transform a brownfield site into a new, $23.6 million sports complex with tennis courts, running paths and athletic fields for baseball, softball and soccer teams, CTL overcame substantial economic and environmental challenges. The site was a former industrial complex, and initial environmental studies revealed asbestos and myriad chemical contaminants that would need to be managed before any work could begin.

Instead of the common solution –— excavating and removing contaminated soils and replacing them with imported fill materials — CTL’s geotechnical and environmental engineers recommended deep dynamic compaction, a ground-improvement technique almost unheard of in the Denver market. The technique densifies soils, compacting fills in place using a 100-foot crane with a 30-ton drop weight.

“Deep dynamic compaction is economically feasible, but rarely used due to the typical clay soils in the area and its impactful nature,” said CTL Environmental Division Manager Matt Wardlow, who accepted the award on CTL’s behalf. “This property was just right for this solution — a Goldilocks property. Metro State now has a state-of-the-art facility, and the community is cleaner and safer due to its investment.”

The firm took great care to promote public safety and environmental stewardship during the project, monitoring air quality and vibration from the impact. Deep dynamic compaction saved the client $3 million, making it economically feasible for the university to transform its vision for this urban campus into a reality. Wardlow describes the process in great detail on ACEC Colorado’s YouTube channel, accessible here.

CTL’s project team included Matt Wardlow, Marc Cleveland, Benny Lujan, Dave Glater and Trevor Truett, working in partnership with Metropolitan State University, Auraria Higher Education Center, Davis Partnership Architects, Martin/Martin Inc., Saunders Construction Inc. and Hayward Baker Inc., the latter firm performing the deep dynamic compaction.

The project now advances to the national ACEC competition, to be held April 19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.