LAX Takes Flight for the 1984 Olympics

by Gary Goldstein, Asst. News Editor; Civil Engineering—ASCE, New York, N.Y. 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1984, Vol. 54, Issue 6, Pg. 40-42

Document Type: Feature article


LAX (the Los Angeles airport) had over two dozen contractors working on site to complete their $700 million improvement plan in time for the Olympics in July. They also came up with several innovative designs in constructing the elevated roadway and the international terminal. The international terminal building foundation partially consists of timber lagged soldier pile retaining wall with two levels of tiebacks, which is not a normal foundation for a permanent structure. It is covered with 10 in. to 18 in. of reinforced shotcrete and all the foundations are spread footings connected by tie beams and grade beams. The elevated roadway is supported by a combination pile/column that acts as one unit rather than being supported by the normal group of piles with a concrete cap on top and a column on top of that. The column piles were 5 ft. diam. columns, which became 5 ft. diam. piles going down 45 ft. to 65 ft. as one unit. The reinforcement that comes straight out of the pile when encased in concrete becomes the column to support the roadway deck. It also produced flexibility in the structure for seismic loading; conventional pile caps at ground level would have made the structure too rigid. The roadway has an 84 ft. span with 3 ft. 2 in. pre-cast girders plus a 10 in. slab cast on afterward. This is shallow by normal practice but the designer circumvented that by making the girders in trapezoidal boxes rather than I sections, using high strength concrete of 6,000 psi so that he could put in a large prestressing force. Skylighting was extensively used on the two new terminals to save on energy and also provide natural daylighting. New runway sections were built over the Sepulveda Blvd. vehicular tunnel that included a two-inch airspace to prevent weight transfer of jets to the tunnel. LAX also has the first cogeneration system in any U.S. airport.

Subject Headings: Highways and roads | Concrete piles | Concrete columns | Flight | Highway and road design | Wood structures | Beams | Reinforced concrete | Los Angeles | California | United States

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