Industry News

Staff | September 28, 2010

America's first steel-framed factory building, now undergoing extensive renovation, was recently the site of a "winter bash" by the Providence Preservation Society (PPS). The Sharpe Building at the Promenade in Rhode Island's capital, known as the world's largest tool factory at the turn of the 20th century, drew hundreds of people statewide to celebrate the ongoing restoration and raise money for the continuing construction. Purchased by the Guerra family in 1964 for $3.2 million amidst a bleak economic outlook, the Sharpe Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Part of a large mill complex on Promenade Street built for the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, the 178,000-square-foot Sharpe Building is distinguished by its oversized granite cornice and curved brick piers. The earliest part of the building dates to 1896, with additions up to 1917. The six-story east wing features steel-and-brick arch construction with wood-plank floors and huge wood windows. A 135-foot-tall square chimney rises 65 feet above the roof — one of the highest points in the capital city. Brown & Sharpe originated in 1833 in the South Main Street shop of David Brown & Son, makers and repairers of clocks, watches and light precision tools. Eventually, the company became known as Browne & Sharpe and its mill complex grew to over 60 structures on a 33-acre tract in Providence. Later, the parcel was reduced to 25 acres when a portion of the site was cleared to accommodate the construction of Interstate 95 through downtown Providence. Fund-raising events coupled with $17 million in federal and state tax credits have enabled the restoration to move forward

Renovations for the New Hampshire Community Technical College at the Pease Tradeport Campus in Portsmouth, N.H., are under way by North Branch Construction Inc. of Henniker, N.H. The $3.2-million project entails site construction and extensive work on the four-story building including new rooftop HVAC units and associated ductwork, steel structure, and new roofing. concrete, insulation, preformed roof and wall panels, thermoplastic membrane roofing, steel doors and frames, insulated skylights, acoustical ceiling, paint, fire protection, and mechanical and electrical upgrades with a small addition for the new electrical room.

Preliminary design of the proposed Acadia Gateway Center is under way by the Maine Department of Transportation in conjunction with Allied Engineering of Portland, Maine. Design work was triggered by the separate issuance of Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI) of The Federal Transit Administration and National Park Service (NPS) following the Environmental Assessment for the Center, proposed for Trenton, Maine. As outlined in the Master Plan proposed by the Maine Department of Transportation, the project would include a combined transportation facility/welcome center/bus maintenance facility in Trenton, to reduce traffic on Route 3 and decrease auto dependency while increasing transit usage in Trenton, Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. The facility would be constructed in four phases: Phase One, tentatively scheduled to be completed by 2009, includes the construction of a bus maintenance and storage facility, commuter park and ride lot, access road, and related utilities. Phase Two, scheduled to be completed by 2012, includes construction of an intermodal center, a portion of the National Park Service (NPS) Welcome Center and regional tourism information. Phase Three involves construction of the remainder of the National Park Service Welcome Center, and Phase Four entails a National Park Service theater building and an ancillary use building, which could be used to support local businesses. The latter two phases are slated to be finished sometime after 2012. Acadia National Park, an extremely popular tourist destination, covers about 35,000 acres and includes mountains, an ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. Administered by the National Park Service, the park was created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument, became the Lafayette National Park in 1919, and was finally named Acadia National Park in 1929. From 1915 to 1933, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. financed, designed and directed the construction of an extensive network of carriage trails throughout the park. The network encompassed over 50 miles of gravel carriage trails, 17 granite bridges and two gate lodges, almost all of which are still maintained and in use today.

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, who chairs the New England Governors' Conference, and Quebec Premier Jean Charest, have concluded a first of its kind forum on energy and the environment that could lead to sweeping changes in the way publicly funded new construction and major building renovations are performed in the region. The forum, held in Quebec City, Quebec, featured discussions between New England governors and Canadian premiers that resulted in a series of recommendations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy sources and conservation, enhancing energy trade within the region, and improving transportation strategies. The recommendations will be further refined and formally presented for discussion and action at the next meeting of the governors and premiers in June. At the forum, energy and environmental regulators and officials from across the region discussed a number of proposals, among them, the adoption of appliance and equipment standards including the establishment of a region-wide code for all publicly funded new construction and major building renovations. Also implied in their recommendations was making energy efficiency a priority when considering energy supply and capacity to ensure that proposed alternative sources of energy are cheaper than conventional sources. The regulators also called for increased cooperation among governments and energy suppliers to ease burdens of energy generation and transmission and finding ways to integrate renewable power into the energy supply. In addition, the experts urged the development and harmonization of renewable portfolio standards across the region. A final suggestion was the establishment of a regional task force to address the need for cleaner means of transportation, including more stringent auto emission standards. All of these recommendations, if mandated by future legislation, could have significance for the methods, materials and equipment used in the $40 billion worth (excluding residential) of construction put in place in New England each year.