Anaheim, CA-based Driver SPG has reached about 40 percent completion on construction of “Discovery Pavilion,” a new 46,000-sq-ft expansion to the Discovery Science Center (DSC) in Santa Ana, CA. The $22.5 Million project will provide space for new interactive exhibits and programs, including the new Education Wing with galleries and exhibit areas and a Natural Resources Pavilion with various labs and unique exhibits.

A construction highlight so far has been the use of torque-down piles for the foundation instead of conventional drilled piles, which has allowed the popular educational facility to remain open during construction.

Brett Montgomery, senior project manager for Driver SPG, says they did not use drilled piles because of noise factors and because they would shake nearby structures upon insertion, which would disturb the daily operation of the science center.

Montgomery says torque-down piles, which spin and go straight into the ground like a giant lag screw, also create much less spoil than conventional piles. He says the torque down piles only rendered about a wheel barrel worth of dirt for each of the 132, two-ft-diameter by 45-ft-deep holes that were dug for the piles. He says a common drilled pile would pull up roughly two cu-yds of dirt for each hole.

"[Torque down piles] compress the dirt against the wall and that gives additional strength," says Montgomery, whose company is an affiliate of Pasadena-based C.W. Driver.

Driver SPG’s scope of work on the expansion also includes the addition of a 10,000-sq-ft showcase theater with 500 retractable seats in the new pavilion and the renovation of 4,000 sq-ft in the Grand Hall of Science. Construction began January 1 of this year and is scheduled to complete in March of next year. Structural steel is now fully erected and the metal deck is installed, and crews are preparing to pour second floor concrete slabs.

Montgomery says another interesting challenge that crews are facing is a lack of space for materials on the tight, 13,000 sq-ft project footprint. "A lot of our work has been a just-in-time delivery method in order to get things out as they are going up," he says, adding that all construction crew parking is offsite at a nearby mall.

“The key to this project is effective coordination and timing of the entire process,” said Karl Kreutziger, president of Driver SPG in a press release. “Because of the limited staging areas, and since the Discovery Science Center will be fully operational during construction, we are taking the necessary measures to ensure the fun, educational experience of patrons is uninterrupted.”

The two-level pavilion is expected to double the number of visitors to the Discovery Science Center to one million annually, and expand the field trip capacity of the museum to 210,000 students each year.