Updates from GNCB

Darien Congregational Church Grand Reopening

  • By GNCB
  • 28 Feb, 2017

Darien, CT

GNCB attended the Grand Reopening of the Darien Congregational Church Meetinghouse following completion of the restoration of the Meetinghouse’s attic and roof. The Meetinghouse was closed to services in summer 2016 following GNCB’s discovery of major failures in the structural system during our condition assessment of the Congregation’s complex. GNCB is pleased that the attic and roof are stabilized and that the Congregation is once again able to occupy their Meetinghouse.

This project was undertaken due to failures in the bottom chord of the Meetinghouse’s modified queen-rod trusses. Two of the three truss bottom chords were split at the location of posts supporting the roof’s purlins and wind-bent frame. Evidence of two previous retrofit attempts indicated that the roof and attic framing were a source of concern for the Congregation for many years. In addition to the failures observed in the structure, GNCB discovered that the modern plaster and metal lath system were in the process of “unzippering” due to nail withdrawal from the attic floor framing.

Kronenberger and Sons Restoration (KSR) was hired to temporarily shore the failed trusses while the Congregation and GNCB deliberated the best option for restoring the Meetinghouse. It was decided to remove the existing attic floor framing and ceiling finishes, reinforce the existing primary framing, and reconstruct the attic at a constant elevation with improved capacity. KSR constructed a temporary work platform to protect the lower areas of the Meetinghouse while they worked above.

The truss bottom chords were reinforced with double channels set at a constant elevation level with the bottom of the most heavily deflected truss bottom chord. This option allowed removal of the columns currently supporting the roof framing off of the balcony framing – the result of a previous attempt at retrofitting the structure. The steel was brought into the Meetinghouse through one of the building’s windows and set on steel bearing plates pocketed into the brick masonry walls. Level attic framing was installed and the existing roof framing was reinforced for modern snow loading.

The steel-reinforced truss bottom chords are now boxed out and finished with a modern gypsum ceiling with crown-molding, matching the molding originally finishing the perimeter of the Meetinghouse’s ceiling. The Congregation took the opportunity to make improvements to the accessibility of the attic space and the lighting of the Meetinghouse.

The existing ceiling was heavily deflected and in the process of “unzippering.” Posts at the corner of the existing balcony are supporting one of the roof/attic trusses above which is failed, deflected, and boxed out below in an attempt to conceal the failure.
Temporary shoring installed at major failure in one of the bottom chords of the roof/attic truss.
Scaffolding and work platform constructed to protect the lower areas of the Meetinghouse while work progressed above.
Steel channels now support the truss bottom chords and roof framing above. The steel was brought into the space through a window, set on bearing plates in the existing masonry, and spliced with a moment connection to ease installation.
New attic framing is supported by the steel reinforcing which is also boxed out to support new ceiling finishes.
The new drop beams at the ceiling are finished with crown molding matching the existing perimeter molding. Existing columns supporting the heavily deflected attic framing are now removed and the Meetinghouse’s lighting is greatly improved.
James Norden (GNCB) and Reverend Dale at the Grand Reopening
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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