GEOSTRATA Features Unique Wings Over Washington Project 

GEOSTRATA’s October/November issue features an article by Associate Geotechnical Engineer Lyle Stone on the one-of-a-kind Wings Over Washington development project. In the feature, Lyle explains this challenging and unique project and the creative solutions GeoEngineers and teaming partners used to build on a century-old historic pier.

Wings Over Washington is a multimedia theater where guests can experience a simulated flight over the Puget Sound thanks to hydraulic seats, lasers and other cutting-edge technology. All that heavy technology had to be built way out on Seattle’s Pier 57, home to the Seattle Great Wheel, Miner’s Landing and a variety of restaurants and tourist shops. 

Pier 57 is only 140 feet wide and 470 feet long, leaving little room for staging and operations. Because of the pier’s importance to Seattle tourism, businesses also had to remain open to foot traffic during construction. Unfortunately, borings along the pier would have meant closing the pier and raising costs for the client significantly, so standard geotechnical investigation wasn’t possible.

The theater and state-of-the-art equipment within meant a large and unique set of loads. In addition to large dead loads, like the 70,000 lbs. screen, Geoengineers had to plan for an unusual amount of dynamic loading on the foundation. The hydraulic seat system moves guests quickly in all directions during a show, and to maintain the illusion of flight the foundation needed to remain completely stationary during dynamic loads of approximately 18,000 lbs. Just an inch or two of movement would dampen the effect and ruin the flight simulation.

A GeoEngineers team provided creative geotechnical solutions for all these challenges and more between 2014 and the project completion in 2016. To learn how they did it, head over to GEOSTRATA to read the full piece. 

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