Updates from GNCB

Major Milestone in Reconstruction of St. Michael Church

  • By GNCB
  • 12 Apr, 2017

Pawcatuck, CT

The Church of St. Michael the Archangel celebrated a major milestone in construction this April with the installation of the first timber truss. To commemorate this point in construction, the Church invited the St. Michael community and the project design and construction teams to attend a ceremony in which Bishop Michael Cote of the Diocese of Norwich blessed the first truss before its installation.

The parish decided to reconstruct their Church following GNCB’s discovery of extensive failures in the original Church’s scissor roof trusses in spring 2012. The new Church is designed to replicate the original’s layout and appearance, while providing major improvements to accessibility, community space, and aesthetics.

As Engineer-of-Record for this project, GNCB is responsible for the improvements and modifications to the existing foundations, reinforcement of the first floor framing, design of the lateral system of the Church using cold-formed-steel construction, and design of the Church balcony and rear addition. To-date, installation of concrete and steel in the lower level of the Church is complete. Construction now moves above ground with the installation of steeple steel and the timber trusses.

See the photos and video below to learn more about this project’s backstory and progress as well as the Truss Blessing Ceremony.

Architect: Geddis Architects

Construction Manager: Petra Construction

Timber Frame Designer and Contractor: Vermont Timber Works

Watch the Truss Raising Video

The original Church steeple blew off the structure shortly after its construction. The new Church will have a steeple replicated from archival photos.
Interior columns in the original Church blocked Parishioners’ views and cluttered the nave. GNCB’s investigation showed that these columns were not original to the structure and were an attempt to support the scissor roof trusses shortly after the Church’s construction. The columns were supported with lally columns in the Church’s basement.
View of the original Church’s roof and ceiling construction. The lightly-framed scissor trusses supported a lath and plaster ceiling. Failures in truss and roof members and connections were present throughout the attic space.
The original community room under the transept was cluttered with columns. Some of these columns were original supports for the first floor framing and some of them were supplementary columns added to support the added columns above under the roof trusses.
GNCB documented the original floor and wall framing through exploratory openings at the interior and exterior of the Church.
GNCB also provided geotechnical services on this project by performing test borings and test pits at the site. Test pits allowed GNCB to document the original stone foundations.
Petra Construction demolished the Original Church down to the first floor framing. This image shows the lightly-framed transept scissor truss.
The first floor girders are reinforced with steel to remove most of the columns from the community space. A concrete retaining wall was constructed under the nave to expand the Church’s mechanical and storage space. Reinforced concrete pilasters are in place around the foundation to support the new timber trusses.
The first of the timber trusses was installed on April 3, 2017. The timber trusses are supported on steel columns which are anchored to the new concrete pilasters and which will be concealed within the cold-formed-steel walls. The steel frame at the north of the Church is also in place to support the replicated steeple and balcony construction.
The new Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Revit model by Geddis Architects).
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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