On June 5, 2009, Greenwood Industries of Millbury, Mass. began re-roofing the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Perhaps the highest-profile roofing project in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts State House is significant not only for its historical importance, but for its fundamental functionality as the political hub of the Commonwealth. It houses both the executive and legislative branches of the Massachusetts government, including the Governor’s Office, as it has since the erection of the building in 1795.
More than two years later, Greenwood was awarded the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) Platinum Gold Circle award for superior workmanship. The 2012 Gold Circle Awards were presented at the NRCA’s 125th Annual Convention in Orlando this February.
David Klein, president of Greenwood Industries, said, “It’s a great honor to be recognized for superior workmanship on a project of such historical significance. Our team was humbled to work on the same building of which cornerstone was laid by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere — and every one of us gave our best to the project.”
Greenwood is a member of the Boston Roofing Contractors Association, an affiliate with the Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA), known for the stringent training and qualification of its members and their employees. Greenwood’s skilled team of approximately 20 sheet metal workers from locals 17 and 63, and 16 roofers from Local 33, worked for 23 months from June 2009 through April 2011.
According to Robert Sparks, project manager, everyone who worked on the State House was in awe. “We’d say, ‘Look around you because you’ll probably not see the likes of this again.’” Sparks added, “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Every single tradesman was thrilled to have the chance to work on such a high-profile project.”
In 1965, when Sparks got into the business, the State House was one of his first projects. “Back then it was just some repairs,” said Sparks. I think it’s ironic that 44 years later, I would have the opportunity to work on this huge re-roofing project, again for the State House, and it would be my last project before retiring. I feel really lucky to have had this opportunity.”
The State House is considered to be a living museum and the most important historical building in New England. It is a symbol of early American history with ties to our founding fathers and revolutionary war heroes. The first cornerstone for the building was laid on July 4, 1795, in a grand ceremony lead by Governor Samuel Adams and accompanied by Paul Revere. The land designated for its construction was purchased from John Hancock. The renowned architect Charles Bullfinch was named architect for the project. He would later be appointed by President James Monroe as Architect of the Capital; and he went on to design the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in 1829.
The vast quantities of copper installed on the State House roof came from Revere Copper, which was founded in 1801 by Paul Revere.
Over the centuries, many additions were made to the original edifice of the Massachusetts State House. As of 2006 its roof had been leaking and in disrepair for many years, putting national treasures at risk. The Division of Capital Management commissioned project design engineers, Simpson, Gumpertz and Heger (SGH) of Waltham, Massachusetts, to determine the extent of the damage and the replacement. Greenwood Industries was one of only three roofing contractors prequalified to bid on this public sector project. Greenwood was chosen based on financial standing, past project performance on historic buildings, and the high level of craftsmanship that is required to tackle such an important and delicate project for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Scope of Project
Few roofing projects could be considered as unique as the roof replacement at the Massachusetts State House. It was to be a massive, challenging roof replacement and exterior repair. Greenwood married copper, slate, modified roofing, PVC roofing, walk pads and pavers to form an aesthetic masterpiece fully functional in its design to keep water out of the building, drain water away, and provide comfortable patios and walkways for the occupants to enjoy.
Greenwood removed in excess of 83,600 square feet of flat seam copper panels, standing seam copper panels, EPDM, built-up roofing, pavers, and waterproofing. They then installed 18,400 square feet of flat seam copper panels, 38,100 square feet of standing seam copper panels, 14,800 square feet of Siplast Modified Bitumen roof, 12,300 square feet of Sarnafil roof and 9,400 square feet of pavers.
A major challenge presented by this project was the inconsistency of the substrate. Due to all the additions and renovations throughout the years, many different materials had been used to repair the roofing system. Under the aging roof system, gypsum board, layers of asbestos-containing built-up roofing, plywood, masonry and tongue and groove planking were found. Every day presented a new challenge for the Greenwood Industry team.
The State House is located in the bustling urban center of Boston. According to Bob Sparks, the congested area around the State House posed additional challenges for the crew. “We were only allotted four parking spaces on the street to work from. There was no material storage on the ground. We had to call in a truck each time materials were needed and have them lifted by a crane directly from the truck to the roof,” explained Sparks.
Every sheet metal worker was required to be tested and certified for this project by SGH. They performed tedious hand-soldering tasks in extreme New England weather conditions, with ambient temperatures ranging from below freezing in the winter months to 135 degrees in the summer. The installation of snow guards with only one and one-half feet of clearance was done with meticulous hand soldering. Much of the copper cladding as well as the transitions from copper to slate were soldered by hand.
Safety was paramount; Greenwood’s team of safety professionals conducted a pre-project safety survey and designed safety protocol. The congested work area and downtown Boston location dictated the sensitivity of the work area. Greenwood had to consider not only the safety of its employees, but that of the occupants, visitors and the general public as well.
The safety team devised a railing and safety net system to keep workers, material and debris on the roof. In order to keep workers safe when traveling across a sloped roof covered in copper—with many angle changes — Greenwood designed and installed a wood walkway system with railings. Greenwood utilized full body harness tied off 100 percent of the time anywhere a worker was to be exposed to a fall hazard. The end result: zero significant injuries during the 41,045 hours worked to complete the project. The stunning roof was completed with no fallen debris, and little or no interruption to the executive offices, the House of Representatives and Senate, or the estimated 172, 000 visitors to the State House.
The Massachusetts State House roofing project tested the limits of the art of an historic roof replacement. The craftsmen exemplified superior workmanship and professionalism. Greenwood not only met the challenge, but also was able to exceed project goals. On April 30, 2011, the original project roofing scope was successfully completed nine months ahead of schedule and under budget.
The new Massachusetts State House roof gleams on Beacon Hill, a one-of-a-kind building in design and content; a one-of-a-kind roof in design and functionality.
As a result of Greenwood’s award-winning work, approximately 1,500 employees of the Commonwealth are able to go to work each day without the fear of water leaking into their workspace. Historic works of art, documents and artifacts are now safe from water damage that could have destroyed what remains of American history.