ICA’s First Geofoam Project

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Geofoam Projects – A trip back to 1997

We are taking you back to 1997 and ICA’s first Geofoam project.

Did you know that the world’s eighth largest mall is built on two landfills? You can imagine getting this project approved was an uphill battle; in fact it took over sixteen years. This project had many environmental issues and was opposed by many. Besides the obvious of two landfills, it was built around a historical site, the Mount Moor Cemetery, and it was initially thought to be the nesting ground for a nearly extinct red-legged partridge. Despite the challenges, ground was broken in 1993 and the mall opened for business in March 1998. However, even after the mall opened it continued to be plagued by rumors. Among them were that the developers were going bankrupt and that the mall was sinking. The rumors were unfounded and the Palisades Center Mall continues to strive as one of the nation’s most lucrative shopping malls. In fact, The Palisades Mall just underwent a multimillion dollar makeover to update its sixteen year old appearance. This lucrative upscale mall includes over 400 stores, 18,000 parking spaces, an ice rink, IMAX Theater, a 21-screen theater, comedy club, an obstacle climbing course and dozens of eating establishments. Perhaps the fact that it is built on landfills is long forgotten about this mall which receives over 20 million visitors a year.

Who and why would someone want to build a mall over a landfill and how is it possible? The Pyramid Company had a vision for this 130 acre site centrally located in West Nyack, New York and four miles from the New Jersey border. The Pyramid Company still owns and operates this facility. Some might have called it crazy to build a mall on landfills; this risky project was a truly visionary endeavor in 1997. But frankly, if one has to choose, what would you rather have in your community, a landfill or an upscale mall?

Palisades Mall Construction Site

Image Source: behance.net

So how is it possible to build an over 2,000,000 square foot facility on a landfill with swampy soil? The answer is Geofoam. Expanded polystyrene, EPS, when used in block form for geotechnical applications, is referred to as Geofoam. Geofoam is approximately 100 times lighter than soil and 20 to 30 times lighter than other conventional fill products. It is also more stable and predictable than soil and other products. The use of Geofoam accelerates construction schedules which decreases the overall cost of projects. The time and cost advantages of Geofoam have been proven over the years and the specifications for its uses are sharply rising.

Geofoam has been used as a soil stabilizer and fill around the world for over 30 years, but in 1997 it was a relatively “new” product for the United States, so opposition and critics were in abundance. The Pyramid Company persevered the sixteen years of approvals and completed their vision for this site. ICA was proud to provide over 10,200 Geofoam blocks to fill in this swampy site that was full of garbage and incinerator ash. The success of this project and Geofoam are evident and the naysayers have long quieted themselves.

The applications of Geofoam are spreading and perhaps today this project would no longer be considered risky or visionary. But that is why we love #ThrowBackThursday – it is a great opportunity to see where we were then and where we are now.

Where are you headed with your next Geofoam project?

Do you have a Geofoam story you would like to share?

Do you want to know more about the history of the Palisades Mall?


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This article was posted on April 17, 2014, by Insulation Corporation of America (ICA) – a Women-Owned manufacturer of Geofoam and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which is commonly but mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam™. ICA is located in Allentown, PA and services the entire Mid-Atlantic Region from Virginia to Maine to Ohio.