Crowne Plaza’s 298 Windows of Opportunity

How do you replace every window in an occupied hotel that stands directly above six lanes of highway traffic?
If you said, “Very carefully,” you’d be on the right track, but of course the full answer is more involved.

Chapman is currently replacing 298 floor-to-ceiling window units in the Newton Crowne Plaza Hotel building, which was built in the late 1960s over the Massachusetts Turnpike at Exit 17. Chapman’s effort is being led by Vice President John Ferreira, Project Manager Jim Davis, and Senior Construction Supervisor Mark Johnson.

While the window replacements got underway in November, safety preparations began long before that. The swing-stage scaffolding for the window crews had to be fully engineered, as did the steel-reinforced deck that Chapman placed atop the westbound turnpike on-ramp to shield traffic from the work above. Chapman also developed daily and weekly safety checklists to ensure that all equipment would remain in top condition for the duration of the project.

Chapman’s project approach aims to maximize efficiency while minimizing disruptions to the hotel. Work proceeds on two floors at a time, with the demolition crew leading the way. Once they’ve prepared the area, the two windows teams move in, working in parallel on the building’s east and west elevations, removing and replacing 4-6 window units per day. The windows crews are trailed closely by electrical, drywall, and finish subcontractors, who restore the rooms to guest-ready condition.

It’s an operation that requires excellent communication and coordination, with as many as 40 people working on site daily. Chapman has plenty of experience with this kind of project though, having just completed a year-long windows job on three occupied Waltham office buildings last year. Chapman Project Manager Jim Davis worked on both jobs and says, “It can be tricky, but that’s what makes it fun. There are very few dull moments.”

And those dull moments are growing fewer by the day–Chapman’s original project scope has already been expanded twice, and now includes additional guest room work and a renovation of the hotel’s main entrance.

The windows project, which will be completed this spring, is not seeking LEED certification, but it is most certainly a green effort. Replacing 40-year-old steel windows with a thermally broken aluminum window system that incorporates insulated and low-e coated glass will deliver a nice building performance payoff in the form of lower heating and cooling costs.

published 02.02.2010

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