Team Spotlight – Oscar Orduno, Inc.

Project Role – Earth Retention System

This is the first edition of Team Spotlight, articles that will highlight the contributions of our team members for the completion of the historic Capitol Complex Project Phase II.

Excavation continues on Phase II as the big excavators dig deeper and the earth retention system is installed. Digging sixty-five feet below street level requires precision and expertise to form the perimeter walls that will stabilize the earth, support the new buildings, and protect the surrounding area. Oscar Orduno, Inc., a state leader in earth retention systems, is managing this critical part of the project as a JE Dunn Construction team member.

From Baking to Construction

Oscar Orduno was born into a family of professional bakers who own a successful baking company with multiple locations in Mexico and US. His father, grandfather, and uncles are bakers, and Oscar began learning the family business from a young age. Even though Oscar’s path appeared set, he wanted something different. He would watch the exciting activity and the big machinery on construction sites with awe and knew that one day, he wanted to own a construction company.

He learned the family business well, but when Oscar was seventeen, he moved to the U.S. and began focusing on his dream. After high school, he enrolled in Sam Houston University, graduating in 2005 with a degree in construction management. While earning his degree, Oscar also worked for a general contractor. In 2006, he got a job at an earth retention company, and it was here that Oscar found his professional calling. Earth retention is a specialized construction industry niche, and Oscar reveled in it.

Oscar worked hard, but after five years, he realized he was not making headway toward owning a construction company. However, what he did have was a partner who believed in his dream, his wife Odette Orduno.

A Family Affair

Recognizing that Oscar’s salary from his construction job and Odette’s salary as a teacher were not going to fund the opening of a construction company, they needed to come up with a new plan. They had enough savings to open the only other business Oscar knew well: a bakery. They opened El Sol Panaderia y Paseleria in 2011 in Irving, Texas.

Odette resigned from teaching to run the bakery full-time while Oscar continued working at the earth retention company. The bakery has been very successful and has now grown to twenty employees.

Through the success of El Sol Panaderia, by 2014, Oscar and Odette had secured the funding to open Oscar Orduno, Inc., specializing in earth retention systems. Oscar poured all his energy into the business, earning a reputation for quality workmanship and gaining more and more clients. In 2018, Oscar Orduno, Inc. was selected to design and build the permanent earth retention system for the UT Moody Center arena. Being part of this iconic project helped the company grow, bringing opportunities with internationally known companies such as Tesla, SpaceEx, and Apple. The company now has more than 250 employees and works across Texas, with major operations in Austin and Dallas. The company has a strong project portfolio of public and private projects, ranging from highways to commercial office buildings. As a state leader in earth retention, Oscar Orduno, Inc. partners with manufacturers and engineering firms throughout the supply chain to provide cutting-edge technology and techniques on its projects.

Building a Complex Earth Retention System Below Ground Level in the Middle of Austin

Oscar Orduno, Inc. is a veteran of the Capitol Complex Project and installed the earth retention system on Phase I. For Phase I, the company built a system that had been pre-designed. However, for Phase II, they are providing design-build services, using a team of in-house engineering and outside consultant capabilities to optimize the design and provide competitive pricing.







View of earth retention system in BIM model.

The Phase II design employs Building Information Modeling (BIM), which involves creating and overlaying digital images of plans to see how the different pieces interact. Oscar Orduno sees BIM as an essential tool for designing earth retention systems. “BIM allows us to identify and mitigate potential obstacles during the design phase, which protects underground infrastructure during construction,” said Orduno.






An Oscar Orduno team member operates a drill rig and pier drill while another team member helps monitor the progress.

The Phase II design includes an anchored soldier pile retention system. The earth retention system work began on Phase II in June with the arrival of a pier drill, low-profile drilling rig, excavators, and front-end loaders. The low-profile drilling rig allows work to proceed under the overhead electrical lines on 16th Street.

Excavation proceeds in five-feet increments called lifts. The excavators dig out the area and smooth the perimeter wall face while front-end loaders move the excavated material to trucks. Shafts are drilled around the perimeter of the site. Once a shaft is drilled, a soldier pile is placed inside. Concrete is then poured around the pile to fill the shaft.

A front-end loader moves material around a staging area.











The next step of the earth retention system is installing the rock anchors. A small diameter drill bores a hole for the anchors through the soldier piles and into the wall face. An anchor tendon and grout are then placed in the drilled hole. After the grout has cured for five days, a hydraulic jack is used to verify the anchor’s capacity. After testing, the anchor is locked-off to preload, or post-tension, the anchor. Locking the anchors activates the earth retention system and reduces wall movement. The post-tensioning connects every aspect of the earth retention system into one unit, supporting the entire site and protecting the surrounding buildings.

The team installs anchors into the wall face on Phase II. A shotcrete pump at ground level is readied for the next step in the process.
The team applies shotcrete to the wall face.












The final step in the process is covering the wall face in shotcrete. A ready-mix concrete truck fills the shotcrete pump, and the entire wall face is covered in shotcrete. The shotcrete must be very smooth on the wall face to ensure that the waterproofing membrane (installed by a different trade partner) is applied appropriately. It is important that this bond is tight to protect the building from water infiltration. Once the shotcrete is applied, the earth retention crew is ready to start the next five-foot lift.

Installing the earth retention system requires skilled precision to maintain the wall alignment. The industry standard is minus two-inch tolerance. Oscar Orduno, Inc. has a zero tolerance on alignment and works diligently to stay dead center. Most projects require a ten-man crew to install the earth retention system. Due to the dense urban setting, multiple sites, and historic structures next to the 1500 Congress site, a thirty-member team of experienced earth retention specialists is installing the Phase II system.

The lifts can be identified by the different colors of dried shotcrete. To see more photos of the excavation, visit the project website at

“Earth retention systems are designed to prevent any shifting in the ground during and after construction. Drilling vibration during construction is a real concern. We design our systems based on the new building design and everything that surrounds the site and use different installation methods based on the existing conditions,” Orduno said.

The earth retention system for Phase II uses a passive excavation drilling method that reduces vibration. TFC has employed independent specialists to perform extensive monitoring of the behavior of the retention system as it is being installed and the behavior of the buildings around the construction.


Once excavation reaches the maximum depth, the earth retention system is complete. The earth retention system on the 1501 Lavaca site is nearing completion, and the earth retention system on the 1500 Congress site is estimated for completion in summer 2024.












The Responsibility of Being a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) and What Comes Next

Oscar Orduno, Inc. has been a HUB since the business opened in 2014. The company has grown quickly and benefited from the opportunities HUB certification makes possible. However, Oscar Orduno is troubled that there is a past stigma that HUB companies may be less qualified. “Past expectations on HUBs were low as if these companies were less qualified. I am proud to be a HUB provider and want to be selected based on our quality service.”

Orduno understands the responsibility inherent in being certified as a HUB and feels it is important to serve as a role model for new HUBs entering the construction industry. “Serving as a role model known for delivering a quality product should be an expectation for the companies hiring us,” Orduno continues.

Oscar Orduno, Inc.’s goals for the future are to continue expanding to provide more service to new and existing clients. The company opened a new headquarters in Dallas in 2022 and is planning an office in Austin. Long-term plans include working in other states.

We thank Oscar Orduno, Inc. for the precision execution of one of the most complex and critical systems of the Capitol Complex Phase II project and salute their commitment to the HUB program.

Pictured from left to right: Oscar Orduno, Karis Torrez, JE Dunn Project Engineer, and Mike Hamline, JE Dunn Superintendent. Note: The photos in this article are courtesy of Oscar Orduno, Inc. and the Texas Facilities Commission. The photos are from both Phase I and Phase II to show the different components of an earth retention system.




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