February 12, 2019 - 8:00am to 5:00pm


SEAOI is pleased to present a full-day Geotechnical Design and Soil Mechanics Primer for Structural Engineers, featuring a team of world-renowned experts discussing theory, practical application, and lessons learned throughout their careers.


Handouts will be sent electronically to all participants before the class. 

   8:00 - 8:05 am


   8:05 - 8:50 am

Optimizing Design and Value Engineering Utilizing Load Test Results
Bill Walton, GEI Consultants

   8:50 - 9:35 am

CRSI Pile Cap Design Guide​
David Fanella, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute

   9:35 - 10:20 am

Rock Foundations
Darren S. Diehm, GEI Consultants

 10:20 - 10:30 am


 10:30 - 11:10 am

Design of Deep Shafts in Wet Ground
Safdar Gill

 11:10 - 11:50 am

Risks and Rewards - A Career Retrospective
Clyde Baker, GEI Consultants

 11:50 - 12:45 pm


 12:45 - 1:30 pm

High Capacity Driven Piles: New AA Hangar at O’Hare International Airport
Mike Wysockey, Thatcher Foundations

  1:30 - 2:15 pm

Case Histories: Performance of Temporary Excavations
Fernando Sarabia, GEI Consultants

  2:15 - 3:00 pm

Fundamentals of Excavation Support System Design
Steve Nicoson, GEI Consultants

  3:00 - 3:10 pm


  3:10 - 3:50 pm

Lessons Learned
Bob Lukas, Ground Engineering Consultants

  3:50 - 4:30 pm

Original Chicago Spire Foundations - A Case Study
Jerry Parola, Hayward Baker, Inc.

  4:30 - 5:00 pm

Open Discussion with our Legends: 
Clyde Baker, Safdar Gill, Bob Lukas, and Jerry Parola


150 N. Riverside
Grand Century Ballroom
Chicago, IL

Parking at 150 N. Riverside is $40 and it is in the underground garage. Valet parking is also available. There are 30 of these spots available, so you'll want to get there early. There is also parking at 500 W Monroe, Chicago. You can call them at 312-655-9120 for more information. They charge by the hour, but for 8 hours it is $35.00. Parking can also be found using these  apps, ChicagoParkingParkWhizParking Panda, and SpotHero.


Registration is $390 for members and $505 for non-members. 

A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. 

Certificates for 7.5 CE credits will be emailed to attendees after the event. 

Canellation Policy

If you make a reservation and cannot attend, please cancel before Friday, February 8th.  If you do not cancel by that time, please send a colleague in your place, as you will be charged.

About the Speakers


Bill Walton, GEI Consultants, Senior Vice President and Senior Principal Engineer

Mr. Walton is Senior Vice President of GEI in Woburn, MA and Chicago, IL offices. He is a licensed professional civil and structural engineer in 22 states and has 38 years’ experience in the geotechnical and structural design and construction of tailings dams, hydroelectric facilities, embankments, landfills, ash pond closure, retaining walls, steel mills, power plants, wind turbines, tall building foundations, shafts and tunnels. He has worked in Europe, the Far East, Mideast, Africa, and South America. He currently a member of the GEI Board of Directors and was a former SEAOI board member.

Global Best Practices used for several projects that will be discussed that involve the following:

  • Perform special testing to optimize foundation analysis and design
  • Confirm by site-specific load testing the foundation design parameters
  • Perform high quality assurance testing
  • Monitoring structure for performance
  • Reduce foundation costs
  • Save monies for the superstructure and architecture

Clyde Baker, GEI Consultants, Senior Special Consultant

Clyde Baker joined GEI Consultants as a Senior Special Consultant after a distinguished lifelong career with STS Consultants in Chicago, Illinois. He is a recognized leader in the design and analysis of deep foundations for tall building and he has consulted on 7 of the 16 tallest buildings in the world. His honors include being elected to National Academy of Engineering in 2000, being a past winner of the Ralph B. Peck, the Martin S Kapp and the Moles Awards, as well as presentation of the Terzaghi and the Spencer J. Buchanan Lectures. Mr. Baker has authored and collaborated on more than 60 publications on the topics of deep foundations, in-situ testing, and past building performance.

This talk presents my views, opinions and reminiscences mixed with case histories to illustrate lessons learned during a 60+ year career specialized in foundation design for tall buildings in Chicago and around the world. The talk includes my views on the important factors that lead to success and why I believe clients retained me. My experience has involved working with Contractors, Engineers and Developers to find more economical foundation solutions to meet the design objectives.


 David A. Fanella, Senior Director of Engineering, CRS

David A. Fanella, Ph.D., S.E., P.E., F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.SEI is the Senior Director of Engineering at the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute. He has 30 years of experience  in the design of a wide variety of buildings and other structures. Fanella has authored numerous technical publications and recently authored a textbook on reinforced  concrete design for McGraw Hill. He is a member of several ACI Committees and is a Fellow of ACI, ASCE, and SEI. He also serves on ASCE Committee 7, Minimum  Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures. He is a licensed structural and professional engineer in Illinois and is a past board member and president of the  Structural Engineers Association of Illinois.

David Fanella will present an overview of the CRSI Design Guide for Pile Caps based on current codes and standards for building structures. Participants will receive information on how to design and detail pile caps in building structures subject to vertical and lateral loads. 

Darren Diehm, Senior Professional in the Chicago office of GEI Consultants

He is a specialist in design and analysis of foundations and deep excavations for urban environments. He has extensive experience in hi-rise and stadium construction; underpinning and retaining walls; and marine construction including coastal revetments, piers,  wharves and cellular cofferdams. He has performed geotechnical studies and investigations for transport and infrastructure projects including rail, highways, bridges, dams and levees. In addition to widespread US experience, he has worked overseas in Australia, New Zealand, Qatar, and Dubai.

Recent trends in the building industry and changes in construction materials have resulted in taller, heavier buildings which place ever increasing demands on foundation capacity. The geotechnical design of rock foundations has evolved considerably in the last 25 years based on the knowledge and experience of the engineering and construction industries. This presentation will discuss the basis of rock foundations and the current practice of conventional design. A case history is presented for 110 North Wacker Drive, a 56-story tower located on the South Branch of the Chicago River which is currently under construction in Chicago, IL. The rock socketed caisson foundations were permitted with an allowable bearing pressure of 300 tsf – the highest value ever in Chicago.


Robert G. Lukas, Principal at Ground Engineering Consultants, Inc.

He earned both a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering at Northwestern University, and holds PE licenses in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, and Kentucky. He is a member of ASCE's Committee on Foundation & Excavation Standards, American Society of Testing and Materials, Committee D-18, ISPE, and NSPE. Mr. Lukas was awarded the Martin S. Kapp Foundation Engineering Award by ASCE in 1991. He has published dozens of articles in his career. His expertise in geotechnical projects includes dynamic compaction, pressuremeter testing and interpretation, pile and drilled pier foundations and slope stability analysis. He has participated in re-analysis of six earth dams for the Corps of Engineers in Ohio, where slope stability and seepage studies were undertaken, in ground improvement recommendations and monitoring of over 300 projects where dynamic compaction was used as a site improvement technique, and in making geotechnical recommendations for nine flood storage projects for the Soil Conservation Service. Mr. Lukas has also been involved with analyzing capacity and monitoring pile installations for over 300 projects and interpretation of pressuremeter tests to predict settlement of over 1,000 projects. His research involvement includes a 2-year project to prepare a users manual on dynamic compaction for the Federal Highway Administration, and a 2 ½ year study for the Federal Aviation Administration on thickness design procedures for airfields containing stabilized pavement components.

During construction of the Social Security Administration Center at Madison Street and Jefferson Street in Chicago, an internal slope failure occurred that affected the previously driven piles and the earth retention system. The repair measures resulted in a year of delay in construction and a large increase in repair costs. The lessons learned will be discussed.


Safdar Gill, PhD, Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology

Dr. Gill obtained his Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University in 1962 and 1970. He worked 19 years at STS Consultants and was Chief Engineer and Senior Principal Engineer for several years. Since 1992 he is President of Ground Engineering Consultants. He is licensed in 12 states and is C.Eng. Fellow of Institution of Civil Engineers, London. He has been teaching geotechnical engineering courses at Illinois Institute of Technology since 1973.

Presentation will include determination of soil and water pressure, base stability, resistance of buoyancy, design of tremie slab, design of anchorage with shaft walls and opening for tunnels at the shaft base. Some construction problems and remedial measures will be described.



Michael Wysockey, PhD, P.E,  President, Thatcher Foundation

Michael Wysockey is the President of Thatcher Foundations, Inc., a specialty contractor working in design-build earth retention, pile driving, drilled foundations and marine construction.  Thatcher has earned a reputation for developing innovative solutions to challenging deep foundation and shoring work.  Thatcher has been installing high capacity piles and performance foundations, including limited-access micropiles and augercast piles since 1946.

The presentation is a case history of a challenging driven pile job for the foundations of a new American Airlines hangar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.  HP 16x141 section piles with lengths of nearly 100 feet were driven on a 3:1 batter within a 4-inch location tolerance.  An extensive load test program was proposed by Thatcher which incorporated static and dynamic testing to validate the design.

Fernando Sarabia, Ph.D., P.E., GEI Consultants, Carlsbad, CA

Dr. Sarabia is Senior Professional in the Carlsbad office (California) of GEI Consultants. Dr. Sarabia been geotechnical engineer and project manager for numerous complex geotechnical engineering projects. Dr. Sarabia has extensive experience in the design of foundations for complex structures and earth retention structures in highly constrained environments. He uses advanced numerical tools to estimate the performance of the proposed structures during and after construction. Dr. Sarabia’s experience in the prediction of performance of earth retention structures does not only include his 16 years of consulting work, but also research. The prediction of the performance of earth retentions structures and the impact on adjacent structures was not only the focus of his doctoral studies, but Dr. Sarabia also recently led, as a co-principal investigator, a research initiative funded by the National Science Foundation on the performance of cofferdams in urban environments and their impact on existing structures.

The performance of two urban cofferdams will be presented and discussed. The first case history is a circular cofferdam braced with segmental steel ring beams. The second is a cofferdam braced with cast-in-place reinforced concrete ring beams. The main goal of this presentation will be to discuss the design and performance of cofferdams as it pertains to excavation induced ground deformations arising from these two cofferdams built in similar geologic settings but different bracing system, installation sequence, and material response to time-dependent effects.

It will be shown that the deformations at the steel ring cofferdam are attributed to the compliance in the overall retaining system caused by a large initial unsupported cantilever depth and gaps left open between segmental steel ring beams and sheet piles. The deformation at the concrete ring beam cofferdam are attributed to a rapid construction sequence, low temperatures during concrete curing, and concrete material time-dependent behavior of the concrete ring beams.

Steven Nicoson

Mr. Nicoson is with GEI Consultants, Milwaukee, WI and has 30 years of experience in geotechnical and geo-structural design and construction of temporary and permanent excavation support systems, high-rise building foundations, port and dock waterfront structures, and underpinning.  He has been the lead engineer for the design and construction of deep excavations in Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C. and the Mideast.  He was a member of a team that provided an evaluation of the design review and construction oversight practices of the Department of Buildings in New York City for excavation support systems and underpinning.

This presentation will review the fundamentals of excavation support system design.  The discussion will address practices for different types of wall systems, review related issues such as base stability in soft clay and the estimation of wall deflections, and cover the predictions of the impact on adjacent structures.  A case history will be presented that describes the design and performance of the excavation support system for the new six-story office tower and hotel immediately adjacent to Wrigley Field.

Jerry Parola
Mr. Parola recently retired as Chief Engineer at Hayward Baker Inc. and Vice President at Case Foundation. In his more than 48 years in the geotechnical industry, Jerry’s work has focused on earth retention and piling project throughout the country, including some of the deepest and most challenging excavations and foundations in the Chicago area. Jerry holds a BS, MS, and PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The presentation is a case history of the never-finished Chicago Spire project. The geotechnical work for the project consisted of drilled shafts, slurry walls, secant walls, braced sheet piles, driven piles, and soil anchors. The project challenges spanned from protecting neighboring homes to difficult soil and groundwater conditions. Due to economic conditions, the building itself was never built but the geotechnical work still taught many valuable lessons.






Ashok Stanley ( Brierley Associates )
Han Ding ( Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP )
Scott Humphreys ( ComEd )
Pinit Wichaimethawee ( MWRDGC )
Scott Leopold ( Leopold Consulting, Ltd. )
Daniel Klein ( Klein Engineering )
Joe Wiedemann ( Weber Associates LLC )
William Flannigan ( AECOM )
Suresh Pinjarkar ( Probe Consulting Services )
Frank Maciasz ( Dashiell Corporation )
Kyle Von Holten ( Collins Engineer, Inc. )
Richard Raffin ( Collins Engineers Inc. )
Abhiram Tammana ( THORNTON TOMASETTI )
Sara Davis ( Alfred Benesch & Company )
John Miller ( Nayyar & Nayyar, International, Inc. )
Roman Szczesniak ( RSJR Engineering Ltd. )
Tim Corcoran ( Thatcher Foundations )
Mark Converse ( Alfred Benesch & Company )
Prabhu Ananthan ( Crawford, Murphy & Tilly )
Benjamin Pavlich ( Thornton Tomasetti, Inc. )
Kevin Dommer ( Jensen Hughes )
Eamonn Connolly ( James McHugh Construction Co. )
Peter Konopka ( Thornton Tomasetti )
chuck wyder ( ghafari associates )
ira Norooz ( Maxima Consultants Corp. )
Daniel Morton ( Burns & McDonnell )
Matthew Pregmon ( AECOM )
Fernando Sarabia ( GEI Consultants, Inc. )
Steve Nicoson ( GEI Consultants, Inc. )
Jerry Parola ( Hayward Baker )
Michael Wysockey ( Thatcher Foundations, Inc. )
Safdar Gill ( Ground Engineering Consultants )
Robert Lukas ( Ground Engineering Consultants, Inc. )
William Walton ( GEI Consultants, Inc. )
David Fanella ( CRSI )
Clyde Baker ( GEI Consultants, Inc. )
Darren Diehm ( GEI Consultants, Inc. )
Glenn Zika ( Kiewitt Infrastructure Co. )
August Domel ( Engineering Systems, Inc. )
Dan Schriks ( Alfred Benesch )
Mark Salvatore ( Nucor Skyline )
Mike Berkey ( Thornton Tomasetti )
Ken Karston ( K. ENG, LLC )
Seth Hoffman ( Brierley Associates )
Steve Elver ( GEI Consultants, Inc. )
Matt Boladz ( SEECO Consultants Inc. )
Garrett Gray ( Seeco Consultants, Inc. )
Sandip Dahal ( SEECO Consultants Inc. )
Jon Sfura ( Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. )
Terrence Lindsay ( Lindsay & Associates, Inc. )