Topographical Challenges Have You Heading for the Hills?

17 January, 2020

Why Steep Slopes Don’t Have to Mean Steep Development Budgets

Extensive earthwork and exporting soils takes a big chunk of your bottom line. As a result, sites with particularly hilly topography or dramatic grade changes appear expensive and may get overlooked. But with the right team in place, savvy developers are finding creative ways to make these sites feasible. Turning challenges into opportunities, here are three examples of successfully navigating grade changes without extensive earthwork or soil export costs.

AmeriHealth Caritas Headquarters

Newtown Square, PA

Tasked with designing for a large corporate office, AmeriHealth faced a 22-foot grade change across the site, and various space constraints. Proposing a bold design that used every inch of available space, the team found a solution to incorporate the parking garage into the existing elevation. In addition to limiting earthwork costs, Bohler identified an opportunity to maintain open ventilation on the backside of the parking garage. Sloping down one floor, the back of the garage is open on two floors, allowing the client to forego a costly ventilation system. The team brought additional value to the project by incorporating a second entrance and exit point at the back of the structure.

Warren Corporate Center Amenity Building

Warren, NJ

Challenged with creating an amenity space easily accessible, visible, and centralized in the campus, the developer faced a 16-foot grade change across the site. The team creatively designed the hub to work harmoniously with the existing topography, allowing for accessibility between the top-level green roof, adjacent parking deck, and northern office buildings. This approach avoided extensive earthwork while maintaining walkability from all five office buildings and visibility from numerous vehicular entrances.

Elkridge Woods

Hanover, MD

With undeveloped land hard to come by, residential developer Elm Street Development sought to maximize buildable lots on a 15-acre property featuring a staggering 90-foot grade change. To keep the project moving forward and minimize earthwork costs, Bohler focused on creating desirable home sites while utilizing existing grades for the internal roadways. In some areas, Bohler incorporated shared driveways to fit more lots into areas that couldn’t accommodate a public road right-of-way. Despite the complexity of the terrain, Bohler was able to maximize density and deliver usable homes sites that attract buyers.

Before you pass up the next topographically challenged site, consider options to work with the existing grade. Enlist a forward-thinking partner like Bohler to develop cost-effective solutions and create opportunities to add value to the end result.

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