Lunder Arts Center project on pace for January 2015 opening, uniting Lesley University in heart of Cambridge
Saturday, May 10, 2014
“Everybody asks about it,” said Tom McDermott, project manager and superintendent for contractor John Moriarty & Associates, which is building the Lunder Arts Center in Porter Square. “Mostly it’s used for bringing in rebar, moving the form work.
“It’s not that heavy-duty as cranes go,” he added in a recent interview, saying the device owned by G&C Concrete Construction of Haverhill can lift about 10,000 pounds and is important to keeping the project on track.
And when the workday is done, passersby are likely to see the crane arm’s position change according to the direction of the wind, in order to prevent the possibility of it tipping over.
McDermott said the “church part” of the project will be completed first and, to stay on pace for the January 2015 move-in date for the College of Art and Design, construction crews will be working on Saturdays.
They’ve also enjoyed a little luck, by having relatively soft earth to excavate and “de-water.”
“It’s like a beach out there,” he said of the abundant sand at the job site. “You couldn’t ask for a better drainage material.”
In contrast, just a few steps up Massachusetts Avenue, crews hired by the MBTA to increase Porter Square Station’s accessibility confronted more recalcitrant earth.
“With the T elevator, they went down 8 feet and hit ledge,” he said, noting that Lunder Arts Center crews have unearthed only one boulder which, McDermott pantomimed, was no bigger than a medicine ball.
The Lunder Arts Center, designed by Bruner/Cott Architects and Planners, will be the new home of the Lesley University College of Art and Design — the new name of The Art Institute of Boston, which for 100 years has helped shape the vision and career paths of artists — and will serve as a nexus for the university’s myriad interdisciplinary and arts-integrative curricula.
At the center of the project was the move of the historic Old Prospect Church, which Lesley purchased in 2006. To move the 188-ton former church about 100 feet down Massachusetts Avenue, construction workers used a hydraulic system and beam rollers to slowly ferry the building to its new foundation closer to the avenue.
This is the second time the former church has been transported: The first move was in 1867, when a team of draft horses hauled the church and its contents a mile up Massachusetts Avenue from Harvard Square, over the course of 21 days.
Lesley’s contractors are restoring the church building’s exterior to its 19th-century glory, while the interior will house an arts library and design space. Complementing this facility will be a new terra cotta-and-glass building for art galleries and studio spaces that will occupy the former church site. The scale and detail of the church inform the new building, and its terra cotta detailing harmonizes with neighborhood brick and clapboard. The two buildings will be linked by a multistory glass entry commons.
The center bears the surname of philanthropists Peter and Paula Lunder (Lesley Class of 1959), whose transformational commitment to the university came in the form of a matching gift challenge in fall 2012.
Most recently, workers completed wood framing inside the church main building and addition, continued the layout of the climate control and ventilation system, poured concrete footings on part of the lower level and began street work at the site. Additional information about the construction is available on our website.
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