How Palace Place is built better than a Mercedes

For almost 27-years, I have compared Palace Place to Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz had invented the automobile, but what makes their cars so special is the thought, care, and safety that they put into their vehicles. These are the same tenets that Bramalea had put into Palace Place as a condo. In fact, the construction of Palace Place had garnered headlines from around the world. So, when I had learned that Mercedes-Benz was building a condo development consisting of a 67-storey tower and a 65-storey tower in Miami, I had become instantly envious of the project.

That was until I had learned how they were planning to build the project.

While the foundation of Palace Place had been built using extra-deep shaft caissons, these new Mercedes-Benz towers are being built using augercast piles.

A caisson foundation is a foundation system used to support tall buildings by anchoring them to solid bedrock. It consists of a prefabricated cylinder that is drilled into the ground to bedrock where steel beams and rebar are inserted through the tubes and into the rock to pin the caisson in place. The tube is then filled with concrete and capped to support the major columns of the building.

Palace Place Foundation
Construction of the Palace Place foundation, extra-deep shaft caissons (C) Luke Dalinda

Caissons are typically used when shallower foundations, like strip footings, cannot be constructed safely. Caisson foundations offer help to resist the tipping effect of winds on the building and to control movement in an earthquake. The world’s largest skyscrapers employ caisson foundations. Caisson foundations offer the greatest stability for large structures, especially at great depths.

Augercast piles are constructed using a continuous flight hollow stem auger that is powered by a drill motor that drills to the desired depth. Then, as the drill is slowly removed, concrete is injected into the cylindrical. Once this is done, pre-assembled rebar cages are lowered into the pile.

While an augercast pile foundation is certainly a capable, recognized foundation solution, it is not the best solution, as it has disadvantages, and it is not a method that has been used often for the world’s skyscrapers. 

Among the most significant drawbacks of augercast piles is that the construction method does not allow inspection of the finished, installed product. Other disadvantages include that the connection to bedrock is not as robust as it is in the caisson foundation, contraction and bulging can occur in weak soil zones, and underground water can also affect the integrity of the augercast piles. 

The most significant advantage of augercast piles is cost savings, which is the biggest driver of decision-making in all new condo construction today.

Pile foundations come with some degree of uncertainty. Another well-known building that sits atop a pile foundation is Millennium Tower in San Francisco. This condominium residence has sunk 28-inches since 2016 when engineers had predicted 4-6-inches over its lifetime. In this case, the subsurface of old bay mud had allowed the settling to occur.

The foundation is the most important aspect of any construction. You only get one chance to do it right. This is why buyers must realize that newer is not better when it comes to condominium construction because today’s developers sacrifice quality for cost.

Completed in 1993, at a record $200-million, Palace Place was built by Bramalea Limited, Canada’s largest builder at the time. Palace Place was built to set a standard and example for condominiums in Canada.

So, it can now be said that Palace Place has been built better than a Mercedes.

For more about Palace Place, order Luke Dalinda’s book.

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Palace Place, 1 Palace Pier Court, and Palace Pier, 2045 Lake Shore Boulevard West, in Humber Bay Shores.

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View all current and past Palace Place listings for sale here.


Luke Dalinda, Realtor. Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Brokerage.

View all current and past Palace Place listings for sale here.