Historic / Blog

Early 1900s Photoshop

Published September 12, 2014 in Historic, Staff, Jonathan Salvon, Sarah Nolan

Below are two versions of the same photo, showing the building that now is home to New England Public Radio. It's nice to be reminded that what we do with computers often can be done by hand with similarly impressive results!

And here's another shot of the same corner from the 1980s.

And here it is today.

Black-and-white photos courtesy of the Springfield Museums.

Before and After

Published August 28, 2014 in Education, Historic, Institutional, Modern Design, Staff, Brad Hutchison, Andy Grogan, Charles Roberts, Elizabeth Morgan, Sarah Nolan

It's always good to look back and understand where you started. Here's a glimpse of 79 South Pleasant, showing a side of the building that isn't visible from the street or campus.

Up a Lazy River

Published August 15, 2014 in Construction, Historic, Staff, Brad Hutchison, Chris Farley

It's actually not a river. It's a canal. And we didn't travel up. We floated down.

KRA and structural engineer GNCB recently rafted beneath a mill building to observe conditions. Aside from a few spider-related scares, they returned safely to shore.

And if you didn't catch the song reference above, there's this:


Under Construction - Easthampton and Amherst

Published August 11, 2014 in Community, Construction, Historic, Staff, Brad Hutchison, Andrew Bagge, Aelan Tierney, Chris Farley, Charles Roberts

We have added a number of "under construction" photos of our Olympia Oaks (below) and Cottage Square (bottom) projects on our facebook page.

UUSA Tiffany Window Returns

Published May 30, 2014 in Community, Historic, Staff, Jonathan Salvon, Liv Wyatt

Yesterday, workers began reinstalling the "Angel of the Lillies" Tiffany window at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. Removed last year at the start of construction, the window has been restored.

Commissioned and built in 1890, the windows began their life at the All Souls Unitarian Church in Roxbury, MA. When the Roxbury congregation's building changed hands in the 1920s, the windows were removed at the request of their donors, who had stipulated that they always be installed in a Unitarian church. The 135" x 108" window was donated to the Amherst congregation in 1925 by the American Unitarian Association.

79 South Pleasant

Published November 18, 2013 in Historic, Institutional, Modern Design, Staff, Andy Grogan, Charles Roberts

The nearly-complete 79 South Pleasant project is featured on the front page of this morning's Daily Hampshire Gazette. Or, you can read it here.

You can read more about the historic tin ceiling here.

Terracotta Panels at Curtain Wall

Two Methods of Brick Shear Testing

Published November 13, 2013 in Construction, Historic, Staff, Chris Farley, Liv Wyatt

On recent renovation projects, we have needed to understand the shear strength of existing masonry, both to confirm adequate shear resistance in the existing structure and to engineer additional shear-resisting components when necessary. Here are two methods our engineers have used to evaluate this.

Method A: The head joint on either side of a single brick is removed using an ArborTech head joint saw. A stainless steel bladder is inserted into the void on one side of the brick. A movement indicator is hot-melt glued to the other end of the brick and a metal stop is glued to the adjacent brick. Hydraulic fluid is then pumped slowly into the bladder until the brick is pushed toward the void on the opposite side. The movement indicator shows how much the brick moved. This reading, along with the area of the brick bed joints and the hydraulic pressure, is plugged into a formula which results in a number which indicates the wall’s ability to resist shear.

Photo by Chris Farley, AIA

Method B: Another way of testing is called the "shove test." The tester has a small hydraulic jack with a load gauge that is installed within the wall.  Similar to Method A, the jack increases pressure on the adjacent brick until sliding occurs. Some feel that a displacement gauge is not necessary, since the sliding occurs suddenly in a brittle failure mode, and the load usually falls off dramatically.

Diagram by Ryan Hellwig, P.E.

Because Method B requires the removal of an entire brick, it is good to have a mason on site when testing. With Method A, only the head joints are removed, making a mason's presence during testing less critical.

Saving a Tin Ceiling

Published November 6, 2013 in Historic, Institutional, Staff, Andy Grogan, Charles Roberts, Sustainability

We’ve been working with Amherst College on the renovation and addition to 79 South Pleasant in Amherst, MA. The building was built in the 1830s and was originally home to the First Baptist Church. KRA’s Andy Grogan looks back on how the project team saved the sanctuary’s c. 1905 tin ceiling.

Faced with a historic building that had been less-than thoughtfully renovated by a previous owner inthe 1960s, we didn’t expect much of the original interior to remain. The sanctuary’s 12’ high windows had been removed and replaced with pairs of double-hungs when a third floor was inserted into the sanctuary; the arch that stood behind the pulpit had been hacked away to make room for a staircase; and there were few traces of any original woodwork. The prospect of integrating historic fabric into the new spaces wasn’t looking good.

Read more…

NEPR Groundbreaking

Published March 22, 2013 in Community, Historic, Modern Design, Staff, Ann Marshall, Jonathan Salvon, Sarah Nolan

NEPR hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Springfield studios, and we were there along with Congressman Richard Neal, Mayor Dominic Sarno, and NEPR staff.  More information here.

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