Feb. 28, 2022
Rumfish Aquarium Helical Piles Foundation

Modern infrastructural design and architecture are evolving due to rapid improvements in modern technology and material science. And this has also raised the bar, calling for construction and engineering companies to rise to the occasion with well-improved foundation systems.

Though there are various brands in the construction and engineering industry, CHANCE® is a trusted brand with a reputation that stands out.

Helical foundation systems offer enormous opportunities in cost-effective foundation solutions compared to traditional methods. Their helical piles have been designed to carry heavy load weight and reduce construction excesses such as noise and vibration.

Helical piles not only offer structural benefits but also help solve various construction problems. These may include accessibility, weight, size, speed, design, and even time. This implies that helical piles possess qualities that make them ideal in dealing with multiple problems during construction.

They offer cost-efficiency and versatility alongside optimal performance and cause little to no nuisance to surrounding buildings. And such disturbance may be in the form of noise, soil removals, or vibrations.

For instance, helical piles have built-in features like the capacity-to-torque ratio real-time tracking system (RTTS) during installation. This, among other features, makes the helical pile foundation system a premium solution offering high-quality service.

So, one could say that CHANCE® helical pile foundation solution is best suited for situations that demand discrete but speedy installation for swift project completion and those that require heavy load resistance and weight support.

Typical general applications of helical pile foundation system include:

  • Boardwalks
  • Bridges
  • Cell towers
  • New constructions
  • Pipelines
  • Solar panels
  • Swimming pools


Hubbell Power Systems, Inc. 2014

The RumFish Grill was to be added by the Guy Harvey Outpost as a new attraction at St. Pete Beach, Florida. Building this new attraction would need converting a pre-existing commercial site into a new restaurant.

But one of the major problems faced by the engineers was transitioning a 40’x15′ atrium into a giant aquarium. This is because the atrium site was enclosed by 4 tall walls having water lines buried below and created access problems. And as such, building a 40’x12’x12′ tank required constructing a deep foundation that could withstand the heavyweight of 33,500 gallons and remain stable enough to avoid any leakage.

A deep foundation system that could support a load weighing over 234,000 pounds needed to be designed to resolve this access and weight problem. The foundation system will also have to be installed within a restricted area and withstand future shifting.

After soil testing and site evaluation, helical piles were considered the best bet to address the challenges posed by accessibility and weight. Moreover, helical piles are best suited for site situations with low overhead and restricted access.

When compared to other available options for building deep foundations, helical piles offer a natural edge. One is that it quickly resolves the problem of access and weight. Second, it reduced the risk of vibration that may affect the surrounding infrastructure. And third is that its fast installation process helps save time – and time is money.

Besides, one of the most distinguishing elements of helical piles is fast installation. Also, there was a need to be careful with noise and vibrations because of the closely surrounding infrastructure and buildings. And there was no need to remove soil spoils when using helical piles.

So, a hole was cut through the parking garage of an adjacent building to grant access. And the engineers were able to effectively install 27 helical piles within 48 hours, using a mini-excavator.

Step by Step process

The following companies carried out the construction of the RumFish Aquarium:

  • CHANCE® Helical Foundation Systems – manufacturer of helical piles
  • Foundations Technologies, Inc. – CHANCE® distributor
  • Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) – manufacturer of aquarium
  • RKM Building Construction, Inc. (RKM) – the primary contractor
  • Central Florida Testing Laboratories, Inc. (CFTL) – soil testing and analytics
  • Speeler Foundations, Inc. – helical pile installation

So follow us as we take you through the exciting journey of building the attraction site known as the RumFish Aquarium.

First, RKM was contracted to construct the restaurant and aquarium. RKM, in turn, hired CFTL to carry out soil testing and analysis. But CFTL was faced with the challenge of accessing the site. Notably, they had difficulty transporting the drilling rig to the site and had to lift the machine using a crane.

Second, soil tests were conducted, and their results showed that the soil had a dense sand layer with a high load-bearing capacity ranging about 15 to 20 feet deep. The engineers then had to bypass the upper soil layer – specifically, 5 to 6 feet to support the tank. Also, they found an additional soil layer that was suitable for helical piles meaning no extra load on pre-existing utilities or the footings of the surrounding infrastructure.

Third, RKM then hired Speeler Foundations to install helical piles – 27 round shafts, to be exact. A drill extension was attached to a mini-excavator to install the helical piles until they attained the required torque capacity or bedrock. Each helical pile could support 15 tons of weight.

Lastly, the helical piles were installed, and the shafts were welded to a 7’x7’0.5′ bearing metal plate to provide load-bearing support. The bearing plate was then fused into a 1-foot-thick slab underneath the tank manufactured by ATM.

Ultimately, the helical piles solved the access and weight problem while limiting the vibration affecting the surrounding infrastructure. Also, the installation was swift and effectively completed within 48 hours.

To sum up this success story, in 2014, the RumFish Aquarium was featured on “Reveal: The 10,000 Pound Guy Harvey Tank” as one of the biggest fish tanks built for the show. One could even say that this foundation solution has been highly successful to the extent that the Guy Harvey Outpost has now been rebranded as RumFish Beach Resort.