Marr Scaffolds Downtown Boston’s Historic 26 Court Street Building

Robotic Hoist System — LIFTBOT — is Utilized for First Time in Boston

Built in 1912, 26 Court Street is an 11-story, 175,000-square-foot municipal office building owned by the City of Boston that is currently undergoing a full interior and exterior restoration. The project covers 11 floors above grade and 3 basement levels and includes a redesign of the exterior plaza. Marr Scaffolding Company (MSC) contracted with General Contractor Shawmut Design & Construction to stage the entire perimeter of the building for façade restoration.

Starting in early June, MSC’s Scaffold Division began the first phase by installing Systems scaffolding on the east and west side elevations of the building. Approximately 14 Marr crew members have been on-site daily erecting the 137-foot-high scaffold. Challenging site and architectural features had to be accounted for during the design and installation process. Marr was able to source the ideal scaffold components to address the many unique applications. For example, extra-long side brackets were employed to access the building’s many recessed windows. Additionally, scaffolding had to be carefully designed and installed around a substantial cornice that wraps around and protrudes from the building’s 10th floor exterior.

Vaulted sidewalks surround 26 Court Street. To safely support the weight of the scaffold atop these sidewalks, the Shawmut / Marr team turned to Isaac Blair (Marr’s specialty shoring company) to design and install multiple shoring towers and shoring posts below grade. As of this writing, the north side of the building is being scaffolded following extensive site work along Court Street, where a subway entrance for Scollay Square (the former entertainment district of Boston) once existed. Completed scaffolding sections are turned over for use by mason and window contractors.

26 Court Street is one of the largest scaffold projects in Marr’s 125-year history. It is also notable for being the first project in the Boston area to utilize LIFTBOT, a robotic hoist system manufactured by Kewazo (Germany). The introduction of the high-tech robot was recently featured in the technology innovation section of The Boston Globe (Pressman, Aaron. “Robots are making this construction site safer.” The Boston Globe, August 16, 2023.) During the first phase of the project, two LIFTBOTs assisted scaffolders in moving materials between levels. The battery-powered remote-controlled LIFTBOT has an operating speed of 138 feet/minute, a load capacity of 220 lbs. and a working height certified up to 164 feet; its on-board computer collects significant operational data and analytics, which has enabled Marr’s project managers to track on-site progress in real time. Most significantly, the use of LIFTBOT has increased overall safety for Marr crew members by reducing fatigue and physical strain often associated with the use of electric winches or rope and pulley systems. Reports from the field are all positive with Marr’s foreman, Patrick Murphy, praising the crew’s new “assistant” on site: “This saves so much wear and tear on our manpower and it’s so much safer – it won’t let you do something you shouldn’t.”

Looking forward, Marr plans to utilize this technology on future projects as it expands its fleet of state-of-the-art equipment to best serve the New England construction industry.