Since completing construction, the 58-story Millennium Tower has become San Francisco’s most infamous building.
The tower is founded on piles driven through soft, compressible clay soils deposited by San Francisco Bay and extending into a dense sand layer over ancient marine deposits of clays, silts, and sands, according to engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH). The building’s weight and nearby construction projects caused consolidation and lateral displacement of the soils, which led to the tower settling more than 17 inches and tilting four inches across its footprint. Needless to say, this tilting began to worry residents and thrust the building into the national spotlight.
After a two-year permitting and approval process, a fix is finally set to move forward with SGH as the engineer-of-record. SGH evaluated whether the building required structural reinforcement to restore its integrity or seismic resistance to original levels. SGH lists the outcomes of the evaluation as:
– Developed detailed nonlinear models of the structure, its foundations, and underlying soil to simulate the effects of settlement and tilting
– Conducted detailed nonlinear analyses of the structure’s response to earthquake shaking
– Designed an underpinning retrofit for the structure, consisting of jacking approximately 20% of the building’s weight onto new foundation piles (52 piles to be exact) extended to rock along the structure’s north and west sides
The fix will prevent any future settlement and reverse the current tilting over time. The project is expected to begin this fall.