Updates from GNCB

CSCE Honors Holdredge Garage at 2017 ACE Awards

  • By GNCB
  • 17 May, 2017

Westerly, RI

GNCB was honored by the CT Society of Civil Engineers (CSCE) at the 2017 Achievement in Civil Engineering (ACE) Awards Ceremony this May for the Adaptive Reuse of Holdredge Garage in Westerly, RI. The project received both the Structural Award of Merit and the Sustainability Award of Merit .

The historic Holdredge Garage (c. 1885), now Lanphear Livery, in Westerly, RI was built and enlarged in several stages in the late 19th century as a livery stable and staff housing for the Watch Hill summer hotel and cottage resort. In the early 20th century, the building was converted from a livery to automobile storage and repair. The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission approved the adaptive reuse of the property as a RI Historic Tax Credit project in 2013.


GNCB’s structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, and historic preservation groups serviced this project starting with the condition assessment of the six conjoined structures, through design for the complex’s stabilization and adaptive reuse, and through construction.

The project present numerous challenges including:

1.  The site’s location within a flood plain;

2.  The long abandonment of the complex leading to deterioration in structural elements;

3.  Stabilizing the structure for hurricane-level wind forces;

4.  The change of use associated with adapting the barn-like structure for public use; and

5.  Maintaining the historic integrity of a prominently-located building contributing to the Watch Hill Historic District’s historic designation


Holdredge Garage is now a significant contributor to the economic prosperity of Watch Hill. It provides 21,000 square feet of reclaimed rentable space and storage. The ground floor houses three retail units and an atrium. The upper floors provide apartment housing to be rented to Watch Hill’s hotels’ staff. The cost of construction for this project was approximately $6 million.

Architect: NewPort Architecture, LLC

Contractor: Pariseault Builders

Holdredge Garage served as a livery stable, housing, and an automobile storage facility before its abandonment.
The original first floor sleeper framing was heavily deteriorated and incapable of supporting the required 100psf live load for retail space. It was decided to demolish the first floor framing and re-support the building on an elevated concrete flat slab.
The complex was temporarily elevated 8 feet and set on cribbing while the new foundations were constructed.
Holdredge Garage is now supported on a new foundation consisting of reinforced concrete grade beams and spread footings supported on helical piles. A helical pile foundation was selected due to the presence of man-made fill and tidal deposits; the complex was temporarily elevated eight feet to allow pile installation.
As required by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, all modifications and reinforcements were designed to be obvious interventions and to maintain as much historic fabric as possible.
The wall framing, which mimicked the horizontal girt system of a barn, was reinforced with repetitive dimensional lumber. The strength of the existing sheathing was utilized and supplemented with interior plywood sheathing in some areas of the building. The walls and floors were tied together to ensure lateral stability against hurricane-level forces.
Floor framing was removed in two areas of the building. At the central atrium, an engineered lumber drag strut was designed at the second floor level to ensure lateral stability. At a double-height storage area, steel x-bracing was installed to allow the second floor to be removed for aesthetic effect.
The timber superstructure is now stabilized with a legitimate load path, and capable of supporting the required live loads. A combination of steel, rough sawn lumber and engineered lumber was used to reinforce the gravity load-supporting framing, including the trusses which support the roof and multiple floor levels.
Completed Lanphear Livery – Front View
Completed Lanphear Livery – Rear View
Completed Lanphear Livery – Interior View of Atrium
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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