As engineer of record and architect of record, Thompson Engineering and Watermark Design Group employed its teams of engineering and architecture experts for the first museum dedicated to the Gulf Coast’s rich maritime traditions. GulfQuest is a 90,000-square-foot interactive museum on the Mobile River, and the centerpiece of Mobile Landing, an outdoor, waterfront park also designed by Thompson Engineering.
From a design perspective, the project was challenging because of the site’s small, restricted footprint. The design solution calls for each upper floor to be larger than the one below it. The museum also features a large globe rising through the roof, representing the Gulf’s connection to the world. The simulation of a ship’s bridge, or control deck, reflects Mobile’s nautical connections. Other design features include observation decks, an orientation theater, meeting rooms and rooftop event space.
The museum’s proximity to the Mobile River was also a challenge and required the design of a robust well pointing and dewatering system. This was a massive undertaking given the proximity of the Mobile River from the construction site and the virtually endless supply of groundwater. Additionally, the building had a tremendous load on very poor soil. More than 860 drilled displacement piles were sunk into the ground to handle the load.
Thompson Engineering provided NPDES consulting services, prepping the Notice of Registration (NOR) and developing the Construction Best Management Practices Plan (CBMPP) for the facility. Throughout the process, Thompson provided compliance inspections required by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and worked with the contractor on stormwater issues. Thompson also provided inspection services during excavation activities so that contaminated soils could be segregated either for landfill disposal or reuse on‐site.
The museum opened to the public September 26, 2015.