Going above and beyond

Aug. 22, 2014

In October 2012, Lynchburg College, a small, private school in central Virginia, announced plans for the expansion and renovation of their student center. The $12 million project would expand the existing 42,000-sq-ft building by 30,000 sq ft, as well as renovate 8,000 sq ft of the existing center.

Early in development, project managers called for the construction of a new road to help accommodate the large-scale trucks and equipment required for the project. Taking into account the site's steep, sloping geography, project engineers informed school officials that a substantial, 20-plus-ft retaining wall would need to be built to facilitate the roadway.

Lynchburg officials quickly recognized the opportunity in front of them. One of the nation’s best and most prestigious private institutions, Lynchburg College, has built a reputation for “going above and beyond” for its students. So, with that in mind, Lynchburg officials used this opportunity to give their students something different, something special, something no one had ever seen before: a dual-purpose retaining-rock climbing wall.

With the help of their project partners Concrete Pipe and Precast LLC (CP&P) and Eagle Site Solutions, Lynchburg College quickly identified the retaining-wall system capable of handling all of their project’s unique requirements.

Following consultations with Stone Strong expert and longtime partner Thiele Geotech, CP&P soon completed the complex and truly innovative wall design. Comprised of three walls—one steel-reinforced geogrid and two gravity designs—the 12,500-sq-ft design incorporated all sizes of the Stone Strong line to reach heights of more than 24 ft above ground.

To ensure a fast and efficient installation, CP&P began production of the precast blocks in February 2013, two months ahead of construction. Wall construction began in April with Pearson Construction serving as site contractor and Carroll Landscaping responsible for block installation. Despite unexpected site conflicts and numerous rain-related weather delays, the wall was completed on time, in just four months. Shortly thereafter, Lynchburg officials contracted a local rock-climbing outfitter to install climbing fixtures and safety equipment to the wall’s main 24-ft section.