by Katherine Marr and Keith Wells
Two-point adjustable suspension scaffolds, also known as suspended scaffolds, are no secret to contractors who rely on their high-efficiency performance for exterior wall construction and maintenance of high-rise buildings. A variety of types of suspended scaffold are widely applied in the field, and they are presently in great demand by customers of Marr Scaffolding Company due to their adaptability for customization on unique building designs with complex site logistics.
With new construction’s progressively innovative designs on the rise in Boston and other urban areas, the challenge for builders and equipment manufacturers to accommodate such design innovations is on the rise as well. In Boston, the welcome development of new neighborhoods requires not only making use of the available vertical space, but also the horizontal or ground-level space — which translates into building in tighter spaces within a stricter footprint. Contractors have had to get creative around architectural decisions that don’t necessarily consider the construction process, including the logistics of using powered equipment such as cranes, aerial lifts, and mobile platforms that require controlled space to operate safely and efficiently. Simultaneously, equipment manufacturers have taken advantage of advances in technology and engineering to improve their products to meet new challenges. Suspended scaffolding equipment is a good example of this.
Marr Scaffolding Company has seen an exponential increase in demand for suspended scaffolding. At any given time, approximately 15% of installation projects in the company rotation require suspended scaffolding. Comprised of three basic components — counter-balanced rigging beams, an electric or air traction hoist, and modular platforms — a suspended scaffold is temporary and can be installed and dismantled for contractors to work on the façades of buildings of all shapes and sizes. When the space and shape of roofs and outer walls call for the modification of a more standard set-up (for instance, the project requires an 11-ft. overhang versus a 4-ft. overhang), Marr works closely with equipment manufacturers to design a configuration that suits the specific needs of the project. Marr’s designs are engineered, and highly trained and experienced crews configure the set-up to meet a building’s specific requirements. Often utilized by multiple trades (glass, insulation, waterproofing contractors, and masons, etc.), Marr’s team dismantles the equipment when the trades have completed their work with no permanent changes to the building. As a matter of course, Marr provides familiarization to customers as a way to assist users in becoming acquainted with the equipment.
With an increase in the number of set-ups requiring unique/nonstandard configurations, close to 90% of Marr projects are professionally installed and dismantled by Marr crews. Their strict attention to detailed drawings and compliance with OSHA safety standards guarantee sound applications and the successful meeting of customers’ needs.
Currently, Marr is supplying multiple suspended scaffolds on a single project for Sunrise Erectors, Inc. at Serenity Apartments in Boston. Due to the location of this 17-story high-rise bordered by the Jamaicaway and S. Huntington Avenue, the use of boom lifts or mast climbing platforms were not an option for performing the exterior work. Instead, 13 suspended scaffolds were installed on the apartment roof in a variety of standard and unique configurations. To account for obstructions on the roof such as generators, AC units, and other mechanical equipment, Marr Scaffolding installed systems scaffold towers to support an elevated rigging system for five of the 13 configurations. Certainly, the most complicated part of the installation is the rigging, but with proper planning and engineering, a creative solution can be found. For this project, multiple trades will utilize the suspended scaffolds over the course of one year.
The value of suspended scaffolds is in part due to its versatility and the access the equipment provides workers. So long as architects seek to design buildings that reach new heights in style, creativity, and engineering, there will always be a demand for a product that has seemingly limitless design possibilities.
Other recent suspended scaffold projects include: 50-60 Binney Street, Cambridge, for Karas & Karas Glass; Yotel Boston, Seaport Boulevard, Boston, for Tishman Construction; Parcel B Fan Pier, Boston, also for Karas & Karas Glass; and Berklee School of Music, Boston, for John F. Shea Roofing.