Arsenal Yards Development Well Underway

Arsenal Parking Garage B

Watertown, MA – Arsenal Yards is a new 1 million sq. ft. mixed-use development in Watertown.  It will include apartments, shops, restaurants, a movie theatre, and a Hampton Inn hotel. Construction began in 2017, and the entire project is expected to be completed by 2021.

Developers Boylston Properties and the Wilder Companies are behind this redevelopment and expansion of the former Arsenal Mall site in Watertown. Prellwitz Chilinski Associates is handling the design and Cranshaw, the construction of the project.

The first phase includes the construction of the hotel and five-story garage, along with some retail tenants, all scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

“PCA is the base building architect and was involved in creating the master plan and overall design aesthetic. Our main focus was to highlight the two existing buildings of the Arsenal.  The other structures complement and highlight but do not replicate it. The precast on the garage was a great contrast to the old brick and we wanted to find ways to aesthetically integrate that into the project,” explains Laura Portney, senior associate, Prellwitz Chilinski Associates (PCA) of Cambridge.

Formliner finish exterior spandrel 

The new parking garage will be adjacent to the Hampton Inn.  “With safety as a primary concern it was important that we created a safe, well-lit garage,” explains Portney.  “We did a study at the beginning of this job and toured a number of projects to determine the best use of precast, which is becoming more prevalent in this area.  The goal was to make it feel bright and open as well as aesthetically pleasing.

“Precast garages are becoming more popular in this area”, says Jack A. Wood P.E., associate principle, Veitas & Veitas Engineers, Braintree. “For this project, they specified a much higher grade spandrel panels than you would typically see on a garage,” says Wood.  The precast features a formliner to create shadow lines across the façade of the garage.  This is in keeping with the increased emphasis on aesthetics as parking structures are often the first impression of customers to a mixed-use destination.

On the first level the precast structure had to accommodate truck loading. “We couldn’t use the typical double tees on the first level where trucks needed access,” explains Wood. Precast NEXT beams were used in that area to support the additional loading. That was the only access for delivery to retail in the rear of the garage.  In order to ensure trucks did not enter the rest of the garage, crash bars were installed to deter them from going any further up the ramp. “We designed the crash bars with bolted connections for quick replacement in the event of an accident,” Wood adds.

“This garage is a bit unusual in that the owner asked us to consider adding three levels of residential on top of the garage.  Veitas & Veitas Engineers generated a model and provided Blakeslee the weight requirements to handle the additional gravity and lateral loads,” recalls Wood. The plan for future expansion also created some foundation issues in one area of the site and required a change from spread footings to piles due to unsuitable soils.  The structure can now handle the possibility of apartments built above Garage B.

Owner: Boylston Properties, Boston
Architect: Prellwitz Chilinski Associates (PCA), Cambridge
Structural Engineer: Veitas and Veitas Engineers, Braintree
Contractor: Cranshaw Construction, Newton Lower Falls
Precaster: Blakeslee Prestress, Branford, Conn.

The new precast parking garage is a welcome anchor to the Arsenal Project for several reasons.  “From a cost standpoint it was more economical and the speed of construction was just another driving factor in our decision to erect an entire garage in a short amount of time,” says Portney.








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