The Evolution of Brick Continues

Mechanically Anchored Brick Rainscreen Assemblies

The Boulevard at 110 Broad Street
May 1, 2019
Written by
No items found.
Share via

The Boulevard was featured as a case study for the AIA Continuing Education featured in Architect Magazine in May 2019. The course discusses mechanically anchored brick rainscreen assemblies, and you can take it on Hanley Wood University!

Below is an excerpt.

The Boulevard, Multi-family Residential
110 Broad Street, Boston, MA
New Boston Ventures
Commodore Builders / Walsh Brothers Joint Venture
Finegold Alexander Architects

The project site is approximately 7,500 square feet, triangular in shape, and at the intersection of two major roadways in downtown Boston: the corner of Broad Street and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Early in the design process, it was quickly realized that it was critical to address each of these very different vernaculars thoughtfully. The architectural design for this project therefore creates a visual link between the high-density business district, the varied texture of the Custom House district, and open and vibrant Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Respecting the urban fabric of Broad Street meant that the use of brick would be essential. The project incorporated the two red brick façades of an 1806 historic Charles Bulfinch warehouse which became the building’s main residential entrance and lobby. It was important that the brick selection on the new façade respected Broad Street but did not compete with the Bulfinch. This is how specifiers arrived at the muted variable grey/brown brick pallete.

The building design also needed to take full advantage of the small site to maximize sellable square footage, so that left very little room for lay down area which was one of the factors in choosing a factory-panelized façade system.

“The entire façade could be built off site, trucked in, and many wall panels could be hung with a mobile crane in a single day. From start to finish, the façade panels were complete in about two months, which is really impressive for a 120’ tall high-rise.”
—Robert J. Law, FA Associate

Elaborating on the design process, Law further maintains, “Our initial design called for thin brick set in precast panels. Working with our contractors, we were introduced to a factory assembled wall panel manufacturer. Going with this approach added a lot of benefit to the project. The building could be enclosed faster, and the panelized wall system was significantly lighter than a precast panel, which made connecting them to the thin post-tensioned concrete slabs a significantly easier detail.”

Switching to a mechanically fastened brick rainscreen assembly versus a traditional precast panel enabled the building to have a cohesive enclosure around the perimeter of the building. That further allowed for consistent insulation and waterproofing detail. Law states, “The predominant material on the Greenway side of the building is aluminum composite metal panel, so being able to simply swap the brick cladding material out for metal panel elsewhere but maintaining the same rainscreen and insulation assembly was a huge advantage to accommodate our façade design.”

Finally, Law notes, “It was critical, especially in high-rise construction, that the brick fastening system was robust and that it could stand up over time to harsh Boston weather, wind, and the fact that our building sits a few hundred feet away from Boston Harbor. We were quickly won over with the quality of this product.”