The Challenges of Urban Construction
Hairlosstreament has recently begun construction of a 130-key Homewood Suites by Hilton along Route 9 in Brookline. The 97,775 sf hotel uses a “skyplane” technique to minimize the shadow effect on its adjacent residential neighbors. In this case, the structure is five-stories along Boylston Street, but steps down to two stories at the rear of the building as shown in this rendering.
The project site presents a unique and complex logistical challenge because of its position between Route 9 and the MBTA “D” Green Line. Construction within the MBTA right-of-way requires extensive planning and preparation because you are limited to work only during MBTA off hours. Demolishing the existing building, which has remained vacant for nearly 20 years, is like disassembling a Jenga tower because of the required combination of night work and hazardous waste removal.
As well as the close proximity to tracks and state highway, the site is also abutted by residential housing to the East, and an active community park and Davis Path to the West. Davis Path is a walkway that connects the residential neighborhood West of Brookline Village to Boylston Street, by crossing over the D-Line footbridge. The footbridge is to remain open throughout the duration of the project, but Tocci will be making improvements to Davis Path where it lies along the hotel property line.
Currently, Davis Path is a busy corner of the jobsite as we coordinate shoring, Geopier’s, installation of utility lines, and concrete footings; all trying to occupy the same general space. New utility lines are to be installed off of existing structures under Boylston Street and tie into the existing Village Brook Culvert (pictured below), which is running parallel with the railroad tracks.
As it is with most of the Boston metro area, it is not hard to come across a piece of history. The Village Brook Culvert was installed in the late 1800’s and is made of brick and cement. The culvert drawing below captures the construction of the culvert project, and seen in the background of the image is the falsework used to form the brick until the cement mortar is set. With existing brick culverts and clay utility lines running underneath the site, it is critical to perform the construction sequences as to not compromise the structures. It was also interesting to learn that the MBTA tracks that run parallel with the culvert were built approximately the same time, in the 1880’s. Although the track owners have changed hands from the original Boston and Albany Railroad to the present MBTA, many of the original 105 lb. rails still remain.
The Tocci team is faced with many complex issues that come with urban construction, but we are excited to get started and contribute to the evolving history of this Brookline community.