Mind the Live Oaks: Foundation Flexibility with PermaTrak Design

Posted: November 15, 2010
mellow mushroom hilton head

Hilton Head’s Mellow Mushroom restaurant preserves its live oak tree root system through creative construction with PermaTrak precast concrete.

Developing property amidst a delicate area filled with historic live oaks can be difficult to negotiate. Hilton Head’s towering oak trees provide an excellent habitat for local wildlife, making it a requirement for town designers and planners to “limit construction and disturbance within the drip line of the trees,” according to Chris Darnell, Project Manager from J.K. Tiller Associates, Inc.

J.K. Tiller connected with PermaTrak, a premier provider of environmentally-friendly precast boardwalk, through an ASLA trade show in Columbia, SC. Last summer, Darnell worked with Jason Philbin, a professional engineer and PermaTrak’s President, to design an elevated walkway that would run along the back wall of a proposed upscale pizza restaurant, the Mellow Mushroom. A principal goal of the design was to maintain the integrity of the live oaks, Hilton Head’s signature trees. “A lot of people come to Hilton Head to experience and interact with nature, and that’s one of the charges the town has taken on–to preserve that environment,” Chris added.

In order to respond to the unique needs of the live oak root system, Jason and Chris collaborated on a solution involving an elevated walkway that would not disturb the growth of the trees. The walkway would be comprised of tan-colored and timber-textured precast concrete treads, supported by PermaTrak’s precast concrete pier system. “In a desirable vacation area like Hilton Head, we can offer a product that alleviates any concerns over aesthetics or protection of the tree systems,” Philbin said.

Buried only 18’’ below grade, the precast concrete base portion of the pier system enables a flexible design that does not harm the live oak root system. “The footprint of the PermaTrak system is very reduced. In other words, only (the area) where the piers go has to be excavated to put in a footer. Otherwise everything else with the PermaTrak is left undisturbed and that’s ideal for what we were trying to do,” Darnell said.

mellow mushroom permatrak boardwalk hilton headShelco Construction, based out of Charlotte, NC, will install the PermaTrak system using light lifting equipment over the course of a couple of days. Measuring just over 45 linear feet, the elevated walkway will be comprised of treads measuring 24’’ wide and 5.5’’ in height. The precast concrete tread lengths will vary, adjusting to the layout of the building as they change from 7’6’’ to 3’6’’ in length. Additionally, steel brackets supplied by PermaTrak will house the vertical supports for a timber railing.

Product longevity and an aesthetic appeal to align with the character of the island point to more projects in the near future with Hilton Head. “The town’s dedication to upkeep and maintenance is clear upon visiting the island. It’s been immaculate every time I’ve been there,” Philbin said. “They don’t want the headaches associated with timber maintenance issues and PermaTrak is going to require virtually no maintenance while lasting much longer than timber.”

Construction on the Mellow Mushroom restaurant is currently underway and delivery of the PermaTrak system is expected to occur in February, 2011.

Topics: Sustainability/Environmentally Friendly