NASA Glenn Research Center

In its continued pursuit of designing and developing innovative technology in aeronautics and space exploration, NASA proposed the construction of the John Glenn Research Center in 2010. Located near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the facility’s main campus would feature wind tunnels, drop towers, vacuum chambers and a research aircraft hangar. 

Included in the project is a proposed three-story framed laboratory and research building in conjunction with the Ares Rocket program. Due to the highly compressible nature of soils at the site, Menard Group USA was contracted to provide ground improvement – the selected technique was Controlled Modulus Column (CMC)™ rigid inclusions. Menard’s solution would support all spread footings (interior and perimeter) and for all slabs on grade.

The soil consisted of up to 20 ft of loose-fill underlain by highly compressible organic peat. 


CMCs implemented for the ground improvement works

The Owner, General Contractor and Engineer – all of whom were unfamiliar with CMCs – were not convinced that CMCs would provide optimal ground improvement to support the new building. Aggregate piers were recommended by the geotechnical engineer. Multiple meetings were held until all parties agreed on the installation of CMCs.  

Menard’s value-engineered (VE) solution proved to be more economical and time-saving than driven piles in supporting the building’s footings due to the required high bearing capacity. A total of 870 CMCs were installed to an average depth of 15 ft and a maximum depth of 22 ft. Menard designed a layout of CMCs at each footing to support the building’s column loads. The design provided for 1 in of post-construction settlement with a differential settlement of less than a 1/2 in, meeting the performance criteria of the building. 

This project was among the first in which Menard used a new rig mast for installing smaller diameter – 11 ins – CMCs.  

For a project that included the construction of a three-story building, Menard successfully installed CMCs, meeting the client’s requirements for quality and safety.  


The Menard group develops foundation solutions based on ground improvement and reinforcement technologies. Its treatments eliminate the need for the deep foundations traditionally used to support surface structures.

Other projects