Updates from GNCB
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

By GNCB 09 Oct, 2017

GNCB was honored to present at the 20th Annual Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers (CSCE) Geotechnical Seminar on the Geotechnical Aspects of Infrastructure . David Freed, P.E ., (Geotechnical Associate), and Amy Jagaczewski (Engineer), presented on the Adaptive Reuse of Holdredge Garage in Watch Hill, Westerly, RI. The project was recognized by this year’s CSCE’s Achievement in Civil Engineering Awards in the Structural Engineering and Sustainability categories.

Mr. Freed and Ms. Jagaczewski’s presentation highlighted the integration of all three GNCB services, Structural engineering, Geotechnical engineering, and Historic Preservation, in the adaptive reuse of existing historic infrastructure. The presentation and subsequent question-and-answer period addressed the following topics:

1.  What were the subsurface conditions at the Holdredge Garage site which led to the selection of a helical pile foundation?

  •  Boulders in fill
  • High groundwater
  • Presence of tidal deposits (mixture of sand and organic soils)
  • Presence of a suitable granular bearing material for the helical piles
  • Need to install new foundations with minimum headroom to minimize the height at which the complex needed to be lifted. The construction site was constrained on all four sides by the presence of two buildings, a road, and an active parking lot.

2.  What significant upgrades were made to the Holdredge Garage in order to stabilize the structure and meet current building codes? How did these upgrades conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties ?

  • Selection of a helical pile foundation allowed minimal disruption to the existing complex while providing an opportunity to construct a new reinforced concrete foundation system.
  • Major improvements to the complex’s flood resistance were made including elevating the structure a net of 2 feet and installing dry-proofing measures such as flood vents and break-away window.
  • Structural reinforcing to support modern Code-Level gravity loads and lateral loads is obvious to allow differentiation from original materials. Minimal historic fabric was removed to install new structure.

3.  What aspects of the Holdredge Garage Adaptive Reuse Project make it an example of sustainable infrastructure?

  • Major improvements to public safety and aesthetics were made to a prominent, dilapidated structure at the entrance to the Watch Hill Historic District.
  • Minimal removal or replacement of existing soils was made.
  • The complex provides Watch Hill with 21,000 square feet of reclaimed rentable space.
  • Existing parking behind the complex was not disrupted during construction nor reduced by the completed project.


Architect: NewPort Architecture, LLC

Contractor: Pariseault Builders

Learn more about this project: CSCE Honors Holdredge Garage at 2017 ACE Awards

By GNCB 03 Oct, 2017

“A Conversation With” is a GNCB series in which one of our team members discusses a professional or technical topic in an area of their expertise. Today, we’re talking with Geotechnical Associate David Freed , to learn about his background and the benefits of in-house collaboration between geotechnical and structural engineering staff. GNCB has offered geotechnical engineering services to our Clients for over 20 years.

What drew you to geotechnical engineering?

Geotechnial engineering was a natural fit for me starting with my Northeastern University Co-op experience which allowed me to integrate 3, 6-month long internships into my undergraduate curriculum. Working in the field to handle foundation issues was fascinating and each project presented new challenges. My co-op experience laid the groundwork for my 45 year-career which has no end in sight.

Why did you bring geotechnical engineering services to GNCB?

I acted on the opportunity to bring geotechnical engineering services to a structural engineering firm - something that is not available at many engineering firms. The two disciplines are a natural team for designing the most efficient structure for our Clients. The combination of services allowed GNCB to enter new sectors, such as waterfront structures, while also increasing the availablity of subsurface information to our structural engineers on projects which might not routinely involve a geotechnical engineer, such as renovations or residential work.  

How do Clients benefit from being able to obtain geotechnical engineering and structural engineering from the same firm?

There are three primary benefits to finding geotechnical and structural engineering support from one firm:

1.  Clients have geotechnical support throughout design and construction. Too offten, owners contract directly for geotechnical engineering services and require only limited participation on an “as-needed” basis after the report is completed. This can leave the design team without geotechnical engineering support during the important final design or construction stages of a project.

2.  Contract Drawings and Specifications can be enhanced with geotechnical information to ensure properly prepared soils and properly constructed foundations. Most geotechnical engineers may only provide a report for Clients, whereas GNCB offers our Clients geotechnical construction drawings. Putting geotechnical requirements on the drawings greatly reduces the possibility of the Contractor misinterpreting geotechnical report recommendations and therefore saves time and money.

3.  Our structural engineers have a greater awareness and understanding of soils and foundations issues than would typically be found at a structural engineering firm. Their experience with the integration of both disciplines and the issues that arise on projects where GNCB does not provide both structural and geotechnical engineering services causes them to pay closer attention to the availability of subsurface information early on in design.

What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

Over the past 10 years I have completed five Army Reserve Center projects in Connecticut and New York. The projects are large, 30-acre sites, with training center buildings, maintence shops, storage buildings and a variety of site structures.

 The New London Fishers Island Ferry District’s New Administration Complex was another favorite. The project created over 32,000 square feet of land and space over water, along the west bank of the Thames River across from Groton’s Electric Boat. After driving about 700 linear feet of steel sheet piling over 30 feet of water, filling the cofferdam with crushed stone, and installing dead men anchors, friction piles were driven to support the new adminstration building. It was a very challenging and rewarding project.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I love traveling, following the stock market, and gardening. My recent travels have taken my wife Arlene and I to Costa Rica, Cabo San Lucas, Aruba, Budapest, the Rhine and Danube Rivers, and Prague.

By GNCB 12 Sep, 2017

GNCB is excited to announce that we have two job openings. We are looking for a Design Engineer (0-3 years) and a Geotechnical Project Manager (10-15 years). Visit for more information.

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

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