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A renovation salutes a legacy of craftsmanship and looks to the future

Paul Deffenbaugh, Editorial Director, Posted 07/06/2011

From Past to FutureThe New England Council of Carpenters in Boston required an update to a tired brick building and the project got the recognition of our judges. Mark Dewalt says, "This was a stunning rescue of an aging building." Andrew Cottrell adds, "Through the use of metal, the form, the colors and pattern create a symbol and statement for carpenters everything about what can be done with basic elements in unique ways."

One side of the building fronts a fastpaced highway, while the other side faces a community. Boston-based architects ADD Inc. used that duality to capture the history and the future of the carpenters union. Principal in charge Jeff Wade, AIA, explains on the more people-oriented side, "We used warmer colors, using the pewter finish on the Alucobond. We brought in cedar and glass and made it feel more neighborly, warm and traditional-kind of like carpenters are."

But on the highway side, the firm designed an elevation that represents the carpenters looking ahead and being more modern. "Long panels of different colors show that off and give a sleeker, more horizontal structure. That's what gave a shape to the building. We actually played with the shape, making it higher on one end to accentuate the length and even made it look like it was moving."

Mooresville, N.C.-based 3A Composites USA Inc. supplied 43,000 square feet of 4-mm Alucobond aluminum composite panels for the project. Of that, 22,000 square feet was finished in Pewter Creek, while Copper Metallic and Carpenter Mica each comprised 10,500 square feet.

The building also includes a huge media screen, showcasing the carpenters as modern and vital. The installation of the screen required flashing, of course, as the structure penetrated the skin of the building. "That was tricky," says Wade, "but metal panel is pretty easy to work with. It's very forgiving and very easy to make it do what you want."

design awards"We're a traditional organization that has been around for over a hundred years, but we are also a modern, innovative organization," says Mark Erlich, NERCC executive secretary-treasurer. "We're a group with an enormous sense of pride and we want people to see what we do."

The use of glass along the bottom of the building on the highway side was done to allow outsiders to see into the building, to show there are no secrets, and to show the members going through training and keeping current. The renovation-which Cottrell says "surpasses the idea of renovation"-took an aging building and made it essential and modern, while offering the carpenters a stage to showcase their own consequence and substance.

New England Council of Carpenters and Boston Carpenters Training Center, Boston

Completed: February 2010
Total square feet: 74,000 square feet
Building owner: New England Council of Carpenters
Architect: ADD Inc., Boston, www.addinc.com
General contractor: Suffolk Construction Co., Boston
Installer: Sunrise Erectors Inc., Canton, Mass.
Smooth metal wall panels: 3A Composites USA Inc., Mooresville, N.C., www.alucobondusa.com

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