Harvard’s Storied Adams House Gets A Make Over

Needle beam shoring supports a load bearing masonry for the installation of a new elevator in Adams House.

Tree trunks were discovered in the basement of Adams Senior House.

The Back Story

A treasure trove of history, the residence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Robert Frost – these facts just begin to tell the story of Adams House, Harvard University’s most historic undergraduate residence in Cambridge, MA. The seven residential halls that make up Adams House were built at the turn of the 20th century and have been beloved ever since for their eccentric character and Germanic architectural style. For these reasons and more, Harvard students and faculty made a request to “keep Adams weird” in face of the current renovation project underway.

Renovation Plans

The Adams House renewal plans have kicked off with upgrading amenities and improving accessibility in Claverly Hall (1893) while preserving its historical detail and artistry.

Extensive Shoring Required

In July 2019, MSC’s Shoring Division was contracted by JDC Demo and GC Lee Kennedy to install shoring throughout the six-story Hall. Initial work consisted of the removal of 30 masonry piers and granite footings from the basement to make room for the new structural steel supports.

Marr shored each floor for the removal of wood joists to allow for the installation of a new masonry elevator shaft. The last phase of work involved shoring the load bearing masonry wall (10,000 lbs/ft) for the installation of a concrete wall and footing for a second elevator. Sister company Isaac Blair assisted with the installation of 70 pieces of wood cribbing, two layers deep, underneath needle beams that were rigged in at 600 lbs. a piece by Marr Crane & Rigging.

Tree Trunks Discovered

Additionally, Marr shored the abutting Adams Senior House with corner bracing to allow for floor removal. It was a big surprise to discover that the building had been supported for centuries by two tree trunks in the basement! Shore-X, GASS, Aluma and Mabey systems were used throughout the project.

Overall, this large-scale project has required the careful sequencing of work and coordination with other trades. Strategic planning for the transfer of material in and out of the site has been crucial due to space limitations as well. Shoring will remain in place through mid-February as the Adams House Renewal continues.



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