Supporting the Largest Waterfront Park in the Southeast: InsulFoam’s Geofoam at work on the new St. Pete Pier

Supporting the Largest Waterfront Park in the Southeast: InsulFoam’s Geofoam at work on the new St. Pete Pier

Supporting the Largest Waterfront Park in the Southeast: InsulFoam’s Geofoam at work on the new St. Pete Pier

Download the Case Study PDF

On July 6, 2020, the city of St. Petersburg welcomed Floridians to a revitalized 26-acre attraction—St. Pete Pier. Serving as a premier destination for residents and visitors alike, the new pier hosts amenities ranging from an open-air market to performance spaces. The largest waterfront park in the Southeast also features public art installations sprinkled throughout. In the words of Raul Quintana, City Architect for St. Petersburg, “It will be better than Disneyland, because it’s free. You don’t have to pay any money to visit. Whether you have 50 cents or 50 dollars, there will be something for you to do.” –ABC Action News

According to an article on thrillist, the city of St. Petersburg has had a pier since the late 1800s, though the structure was merely an empty stretch of boardwalk leading to a single building. Dave Hall, Insulfoam Territory Manager, further explains that the city then “built an inverted five-story pyramid pier in the 1970s. This closed in 2013 to start the new renovation.”

To build up the quarter-mile bridge leading to one of St. Pete Pier’s main focal points, the project architect and engineer chose InsulFoam® GF19 (Geofoam) EPS19 to apply over the concrete deck. The geosynthetic material is a high-performance, lightweight fill consisting of closed-cell expanded polystyrene (EPS). The material was selected for its weight and predictable performance, along with its ease and speed of installation. In the field, the construction team used four levels of 12-inch InsulFoam GF, which they staggered upwards. Starting with a 2-inch channel board laid over concrete, crews then placed a layer of 10-inch InsulFoam GF blocks. For the remaining levels, workers topped the 12-inch system with three additional layers of 12-inch Geofoam.

With over 700,000 board ft. of rigid foam, “The biggest challenge was getting materials out there a quarter-mile on this bridge,” Hall said. Fortunately, InsulFoam GF’s lightweight properties meant that “The subcontractor could take a full semi-tractor trailer out there and offload rather than bringing truckload after truckload of material,” he continued. While the use of Geofoam required about 20 truckloads to complete the job, the project would have needed over 240 truckloads of soil to construct the same walkway.

The geosynthetic fill was also a more attractive option than soil, as a geofoam approach helped lighten the load on the substrate. As Hall summed up: “It’s basically a bridge over water, and you don’t want additional weight over water.” What’s more, unlike soil, the InsulFoam GF solution isn’t in danger of washing out, a key factor given Florida’s rain-prone environment.

Along with its minimal weight, great convenience and ability to stay in place, Geofoam doesn’t require specialized equipment for maneuverability. Instead, with fewer logistics and less machinery than traditional soil, building teams can simply put the blocks where they need to go with their own two hands. The contractor described the process as “‘putting together a puzzle.’ As well, there weren’t any radius cuts to be made,” Hall said. Instead, most of the field cuts were rectangular and easily completed with the assistance of a hotwire cutter. The result? A quicker, more efficient installation.

While the design for the reimagined St. Pete Pier was approved in 2015, the attraction wouldn’t open to the general public for five more years. As St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman put it in a June press release, “It’s been a long and winding road, but we’ve arrived at our destination: A dynamic, 26-acre waterfront playground that will serve residents and visitors for generations to come. It’s time for everyone to experience all the Pier District and St. Pete Pier has to offer.” Supported by lightweight, enduring InsulFoam GF (Geofoam) underfoot, patrons can now stroll and bike along the local landmark for years to come.


Project Location:

  • Petersburg, Florida

Project Team:

Subcontractor: BrightView

General Contractor: Skanska USA

Insulation System:

  • InsulFoam GF19 (Geofoam)

Amount of Product:

  • 3 sizes of Geofoam EPS19: 2” x 48” x 96” with channels; 10” x 48” x 96”; and 12” x 48” x 96”

Over 700,000 board ft. of InsulFoam GF