OPEN CELL bulkheads are an innovative technology used primarily in docks and marine structures. These unique bulkheads simplify construction processes, reduce construction schedules, and eliminate labor intensive tie backs. OPEN CELL structures are flexible steel sheet pile membranes supported by soil contact with embedded sheet pile tail anchor walls.


The first OPEN CELL structure was completed in 1981 for ARCO to support and protect a bridge servicing the oil fields. Since then, hundreds of satisfied owners and contractors have become convinced about the unique performance and low cost of OPEN CELL's through their own experiences.

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The system delivers proven performance for both ideal and extreme conditions:

High Loads
High vertical capacity for localized loads such as cranes or uniform loads from freight can be easily supported. Uniform loads of 5,000 pounds per square foot and concentrated loads of 6,000 tons have been accommodated. In addition, load capacity can be increased by simply extending tail walls even after construction has been completed if project requirements dictate.

Deep Water
The increasing draft of vessels throughout the world has required increased dredge depths. Vertical faces of over 80-feet have been constructed while still maintaining the highest load capacities.

Minimal Embedment
A minimal toe embedment of 10 feet below potential scour depth is a common design tip elevation. This is significantly less than other structure types.

Soft Soils
The OPEN CELL system accommodates soft clay and silts, allowing high capacities while still maintaining local and global stability.

The OPEN CELL system is scour insensitive because it derives its strength horizontally from its vertical tail wall and not through passive toe resistance.

Bulkheads have been subjected to severe arctic conditions both in fresh and salt water. The OPEN CELL system has effectively proven itself against the ice prevalent throughout the Alaska arctic.

Seismic Conditions
OPEN CELL structures have survived hundreds of seismic events throughout the Pacific Rim. Not only have they survived, but they have remained in service with no damage noted.

Long Term Settlement

In certain instances structures may need to be constructed in areas with deep deposits of soft material that are subject to significant settlement. Vertical member orientation of OPEN CELL SHEET PILE systems allows for soil settlement without damage to this flexible membrane structure. Also, due to the flexible nature of OPEN CELL systems, differential settlement can be accommodated without loss of strength.


Recent OPEN CELL design projects:

Argosy CasinoPDF

Sabine Pass PDF

South Harbor PDF