Updates from GNCB

Adaptive Reuse of Ponemah Mills in Progress

  • By GNCB
  • 27 Mar, 2017

Taftville, CT

The first phase of the $31 million renovation to the Ponemah Mills complex in Taftville, CT is underway. The Historic District Property consists of 5 interconnected brick and timber buildings. The most prominent is 750 feet long by 74 feet wide and 5 stories. Originally constructed in 1866, the complex had various industrial uses before falling into disrepair. As noted in Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites , the site depicts “…the textile economy at the height of its power in eastern Connecticut…” See the links below for more on the building’s history.

New Jersey developer One Key, LLC. is undertaking the ambitious task of restoring the exterior façade including providing new, historically appropriate, reproduction windows. Inside, the building is being adapted as mixed-income apartments with a great deal of the original structure being cleaned and left exposed.

Structurally, one of the primary challenges is to repair the queen post roof trusses supporting the fifth floor. Years of water infiltration has caused the bearing ends to deteriorate significantly and the truss joints to shift. The truss ends are being locally repaired with steel gussets and the queen rods are being converted into compression members supported on new columns below. The new columns are also being used to support a new mezzanine level at the fourth floor. The mezzanine will allow loft-style apartments at this floor level.

Learn more about the Mill’s history:

Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

Library of Congress

Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites


Learn more about this project in the news:

The New York Times

The Norwich Bulletin

News Channel 8

The historic Ponemah Mill complex in Taftville, CT
The south tower prior to restoration
Typical mill construction consisting of heavy timber girders and decking supported by timber columns and exterior unreinforced masonry bearing walls.
Cast iron columns support the first floor framing above the mill’s sluiceway.
A diver prepares to assess the lowest level of framing during the original survey phase of this project.
The truss framing at the fifth floor and roof create a wide-open space at the fourth floor. This space will be divided with a mezzanine level to allow for loft-style apartments.
The original queen-rod trusses prior to restoration.
The bearing ends of the trusses were heavily deteriorated at the time of the original survey.
Steel gussets were designed to reestablish the truss bearing conditions and force transfer.
Dimensional lumber was used to replicate the flared roof eave detail around the perimeter of the structure.
The bell housed in the south tower will be removed and restored before being displayed at the restored complex in a museum celebrating the history of the mill and the town’s industrial roots.
By GNCB 17 Nov, 2017

GNCB attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Sayebrooke Village Elderly Housing Expansion project this month. The project broke ground earlier this year and now contributes an additional 15 units to the highly popular complex on Sheffield Street.

The buildings are a mixture of single- and two-story wood-framed structures on concrete slabs-on-grade. GNCB provide structural engineering and geotechnical engineering services for the project. The expansion was a Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA)-funded project.

Architect: Wiles + Architects

Contractor: Haynes Construction

By GNCB 14 Nov, 2017

Ms. Zoe Laird of Ohio has been hired as a Design Engineer at GNCB. Ms. Laird graduated from the University of New Haven (UNH) this May with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering.

As a student, Ms. Laird was an active member of UNH’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Concrete Canoe team, and was a member of the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).  

Ms. Laird’s senior design project was to design a four-story steel-framed boutique hotel with an underground reinforced concrete parking garage for UNH’s Hospitality and Tourism department. She performed much of the structural analysis and structural design for the building, and performed hand calculations to verify the computer model.

Past work experience includes an internship with the Ashtabula County Engineer’s Office in Jefferson, OH; tutoring entry-level engineering courses at UNH; acting as counselor for Camp GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science) at Ohio Northern University; and several summers at YMCA Camp Fitch holding various positions including Tech Focus Counselor.

By GNCB 30 Oct, 2017

Amy Jagaczewski , GNCB Engineer, attended this year’s Association for Preservation Technology International (APTi) Conference in Ottawa, Canada . This year’s conference, themed CAPITALizing on Heritage, was a joint conference between APTi and The National Trust of Canada in honor of Canada’s 150th Anniversary. Approximately 1100 delegates from over 20 countries attended, including engineers, architects, preservationists, owners, historians, students, craftspeople, and technicians.

The APTi Conference offered professional development opportunities sorted into seven tracks depending on attendees’ backgrounds and interests. Ms. Jagaczewski attended presentations on the investigation, analysis, planning, and design of heritage structures as well as case studies on successful implementation of structural and preservation engineering principles. Topics directly corresponding with current GNCB work included reversibility of retrofits for exposed structural framing, management and assessment of historic coastal structures, and practices for analyzing unreinforced masonry buildings in moderate seismic zones.

By GNCB 18 Oct, 2017

The Northampton Community Arts Trust began occupying their newly renovated building at 33 Hawley Street in Northampton, MA this fall. The prefabricated metal building was originally built in the late 1980s and required structural upgrades to support the new use and energy-efficient design. The 25,000 square foot building will be used by the Trust to support education, rehearsals, and performances for varying forms of art.

GNCB provided structural engineering and geotechnical engineering services for this project during the initial investigation, design phases, and construction phases. Structural work included supporting new design features as well as addressing deficiencies in the existing gravity and lateral framing systems for modern loads. Geotechnical investigations included interior soil excavations to confirm the layout of existing foundations and subsurface characteristics for the installation of a new elevator pit.

Improvements to the roof framing involved the addition of 50-foot long steel trusses supported on new steel columns at the centerline of the building. The new steel off-loads the original steel bent frames to meet modern building loads and allow the installation of solar panels and a future suspended catwalk system for the black box theater. Steel x-braces were installed between the new and existing perimeter building columns to improve the building’s lateral system. GNCB also provided structural designs for the monumental stair and mezzanine and the new front entrance vestibule.

Architect: Thomas Douglas Architects

Contractor: D.A Sulivan & Sons, Inc.

Steel Fabricator and Erector: Dublin Steel Corporation

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