Award or Recognition

GEI and Nicholson Construction Receive Top Prize at ACEC/MA 2015 Engineering Excellence Awards

March 20, 2015

BOSTON, Mass.— March 20, 2015 — GEI Consultants, Inc., one of the nation’s leading geotechnical, environmental, water resources, and ecological science and engineering firms, and Nicholson Construction Company, a global geotechnical contracting firm specializing in deep foundations, earth retention, ground treatment and ground improvement, announced today that the Massachusetts chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC/MA) has presented the team its top prize, the Grand Conceptor Award,  for their Provo Temple Underpinning project in Provo, Utah. The award was presented at the ACEC/MA 2015 Engineering Excellence Awards Gala held in Boston on March 18. In addition to the Grand Conceptor Award, GEI was also recognized as a team member of another Gold Finalist Award winning project (Runway 33L End Safety Area in Boston, Mass., with prime contractor Fay, Spofford and Thorndike), and a Silver Award winning project (Shawsheen River Bridges Reconstruction Project in Andover, Mass., with prime contractor Louis Berger).

The Grand Conceptor Award winner was chosen from the five Gold Awards as the overall best engineering project amongst all the award submission entered this year to ACEC/MA. The award recognizes the innovative underpinning system which was employed to salvage the Provo Tabernacle, a historic building in the center of the Utah city, built around 1890, that was ravaged in a December 17, 2010 fire. The underpinning system stabilized the remaining exterior walls to allow for careful excavation beneath the structure to preserve the temple’s facade. In addition, the underpinning system allowed the owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to expand the size and purpose of the building, and rededicate it as a Temple.

In a design-build partnership, GEI Consultants and Nicholson Construction Company worked together to design the pioneering underpinning system to lift the brick facade off its existing shallow foundation, excavate 35 feet below street grade, and prepare the site for the build-out of a new basement under the historic structure.  As Engineer-of-Record, GEI designed underpinning micropiles, needle beams, and bracing to support the tabernacle and resist lateral loads during excavation. This unique underpinning structure was able to keep 6.8 million pounds (3,400 tons) of the building’s facade in the air and enable the excavation underneath the structure to take place without compromising the existing structure. The result of this project was an undertaking that attracted the rapt attention of the public and showcased the resolve of the Church to preserve its history; the skill and workmanship of the engineer and contractor, and the technical prowess of the civil engineering profession.

The underpinning and GEI’s portion of the foundation excavation project was completed in December 2013. Work is currently proceeding on the above-grade portions of the temple.

About GEI: GEI’s multidisciplinary team of engineers, scientists, and planners deliver integrated water resources, environmental, ecological, geotechnical and waterfront engineering solutions to diverse clientele nationwide. The firm has provided a broad range of consulting and engineering services on over 50,000 projects in 50 states and 22 countries. For more information on GEI, please visit

About Nicholson Construction Company:
Nicholson has been both a leader and an innovator in the geotechnical construction industry for more than 50 years. With regional offices across the country and headquarters located in Pittsburgh, Nicholson is a nationally renowned specialty contractor, offering proven expertise in the design and installation of deep foundation elements, earth retention systems and ground treatment solutions. We pride ourselves on our ability to consistently provide our clients with innovative, high-quality design-build options for projects of varying size and complexity. Nicholson is the North American subsidiary of Soletanche Bachy, one of the world’s leading geotechnical contractors, and is part of a global network of unparalleled geotechnical resources and expertise.

Media Contact:

Leann Gebhardt
Marketing Communications Manager
400 Unicorn Park Drive
Woburn, MA 01801