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 18 Aug, 2017

GNCB believes that it is important to foster students’ interest in the fields of structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, and historic preservation. The firm is proud of its internship program which supports students at both the high school and college levels. This summer, Ms. Eleanor Phetteplace of Roger Williams University (RWU) joined GNCB as an intern. Ms. Phetteplace is an Engineering major, with a specialization in civil engineering, and is minoring in both Historic Preservation and in Mathematics. She began her internship in May ( GNCB Welcomes Eleanor Phetteplace ).

While working at GNCB, Ms. Phetteplace was given the opportunity to work with our engineers is all three departments. She was tasked with a wide range of assignments both in and out of the office. As her education and interests lean towards historic preservation, Ms. Phetteplace worked mostly on existing and historic structures where she was responsible for site surveys, condition assessments, structural calculations, writing reports, and drafting. Some of her historic projects included unreinforced masonry mill buildings, timber churches, a caisson foundation lighthouse and several academic buildings.

In addition to working with existing buildings, Ms. Phetteplace worked on new construction projects where she helped create 3D Revit models and determined dead and live loads on bearing walls for the design of spread footings. Additionally, she conducted research on Fall Protection standards in order to participate in the assessment of fall protection systems for a Massachusetts college.

With our geotechnical engineering department, Ms. Phetteplace participated in the soil investigation of a new hotel site in central Massachusetts. As she has not yet taken any soils-related classes, she found this assignment particularly interesting and looks forward to incorporating geotechnical courses into her curriculum as her education continues.

Ms. Phetteplace’s favorite aspects of this internship included gaining knowledge and experience with structures in the field during site surveys and construction administration. She believes that her new skills with Autodesk Revit and Risa-3D will be incredibly beneficial in her future as a structural engineer. She also enjoyed learning about the interaction between design team and construction team members at different project stages.

By GNCB 08 Aug, 2017

The Church of St. Michael the Archangel reached its next milestone this July with the installation of its new steeple. The steeple is a reconstruction of the original steeple based on archival photos of the civil-war era Church. The original steeple blew off the Church shortly after it was built, making its reconstruction an integral component of this Project.

The steeple is anchored to the structure with a series of bolts fastened through the octagonal base of the steeple and an octagonal angle frame designed by GNCB. The steeple is braced with chevron braces within its square base which is constructed with structural steel designed to accommodate the replicated tapering of the original steeple.

Phase 1 of the reconstruction of St. Michael Church will soon be completed. In addition to the installation of the steeple, the cold-formed steel shear walls are close to completion as the exterior cladding and stained glass windows are being installed. The east and west entrances and rear additions are in progress. Phase 2 of the project will include the interior fit-out and finishing of the Church.

This marks the second major milestone in the reconstruction of St. Michael. The first milestone, the raising of the first timber truss , was celebrated by the Parish with a truss-raising ceremony during which Bishop Michael Cote of the Diocese of Norwich blessed the first truss before its installation.

Architect: Geddis Architects

Construction Manager: Petra Construction

Steeple Fabricator: Campbellsville Industries, Inc.

Watch the videos of the steeple and cross installation.

Steeple Installation Video

Cross Installation Video

By GNCB 07 Aug, 2017

GNCB recently provided geotechnical engineering and construction administration services for the recent renovation to Putnam High School located off of Woodstock Avenue in Putnam, CT. The project included classroom and library renovations and the addition of an expanded gym along the southeast side of the 1950s building. Other site improvements included expanding the parking areas, redirecting traffic and bus flow, and constructing retaining walls. The $36.6 million project was led by O&G Industries, of Torrington, CT, as construction manager.

GNCB’s services included a test boring program which revealed site conditions that consisted of thick sand and gravel. Previous site utility work resulted in deposits of man-placed fill at some areas. The man-placed fill required removal and replacement with compacted structural fill. The full extent of the fill was uncovered during construction, during GNCB’s field monitoring of building footing preparation. The deep cuts at the south end of the site for the new parking area enabled the on-site reuse of the excavated sand and gravel as structural fill.

Architect: Drummey Rosane Anderson (DRA Architets)

Construction Manager: O&G Industries

By GNCB 24 Jul, 2017

The Connecticut Cancer Foundation Headquarters in Old Saybrook, CT is close to completion. The Headquarters is GNCB’s latest “hometown” project. Throughout our 52 years in Old Saybrook, our structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, and historic preservationists have been involved in numerous Town projects including the elementary, middle, and high schools, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, the stabilization of the Town Dock, and various residential projects.

The CT Cancer Foundation Headquarters consists of a 4,400 square foot addition to the Sanford House, an early 19th-century, timber-framed home. The addition consists of reinforced concrete foundations supporting a steel-framed first floor and a wood-framed superstructure.

GNCB designed a strong-back system for the perimeter of the Sanford House to allow removal of the first floor framing and increased headroom for the new Headquarters. The original House’s chimney was removed at the interior of the building and is supported and stabilized with a new engineered wood framing system.

GNCB served as Structural Engineer of Record for the Headquarters. Additionally, our firm provided historic preservation and special inspection services for this project.

Architect: Point One Architects

Construction Manager: Enterprise Builders, Inc

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