Boston’s Innovation District is a thousand-acre section of the South Boston Waterfront that’s undergoing redevelopment to provide a vibrant live/work environment where startup, research-based and other innovation companies can grow and thrive.
Colonial Systems, a Boston-area full-service contract furniture installation company, recently installed furniture and architectural walls in a six-story, 108-year-old building in the heart of the Innovation District as it underwent top-to-bottom renovation. The former waterfront warehouse now serves as the new international headquarters for a large technology company providing cloud-based services for remote access, collaboration, customer care and remote IT management.
Project EnvironmentUrban revitalization in South Boston Waterfront district. Complete renovation of a circa 1900 structure originally built as a warehouse.
Time Frame for Field Work6 weeks
Manpower1 wall team and 1 furniture team on site. 1 warehouse team doing component subassembly.
Installed Product350 Knoll Antenna workstations. 450 linear feet of DIRTT monolithic office fronts with sliding doors.
Working simultaneously for a Knoll dealer and a DIRTT dealer over a six-week period, Colonial Systems installed both the office furniture and the glass architectural wall systems that would form the core of the new workplace for 400 employees. The workstations, huddle rooms and support spaces were spread over all six floors of the building, an area totaling just under 102,000 square feet.
All product involved in the installation was shipped to the Colonial Systems warehouse, where it was received, inspected, stored, staged and ultimately delivered to the installation site on Summer Street in South Boston.
This job was an opportunity for the Colonial Systems staff to demonstrate once again why they are the go-to installers for Boston’s most challenging commercial furniture projects.
The 108-year-old brick-and-beam structure erected in 1904 as a warehouse for the Boston Wharf Company was a beehive of construction activity. The working spaces tended to be very tight given the age of the building. The trades all had to work around each other—a particularly tough situation for the Colonial installers, who were continually caught up in keeping work areas clean. And there was ongoing competition for the use of the loading dock and the elevators, all of which were being upgraded as part of the building renovation.
Ultra-tight project management by the Colonial team was obviously essential, as were constant communication and the maintenance of good working relationships with all the other parties involved in the project. Perhaps more subtle but no less critical was the need to remain flexible: recognizing when your preferred work plan had to be scrapped for the overall good of the project and then coming up with an effective alternative route to the goal line. The Colonial Systems teams did it all.
Product logistics were generally problematic. However, Colonial found ways to keep deliveries on schedule and continue making progress. Early in the project, that meant using a crane to move the wall product from the street to the upper floors. Later on, it meant delivering the majority of the furniture from the curbside through the front door of the building. And in between, it meant assigning a team to pre-assemble selected components in the controlled environment of the Colonial Systems warehouse, thereby minimizing the need for on-site staging areas and speeding up the installations.
Finally, when it came to installing the DIRTT glass architectural walls, there was the sheer technical challenge of effectively interfacing modern, precisely manufactured elements with the very uneven century-old wooden floors. Patience, skill and pride of workmanship, all in ample quantity, were daily requirements under these conditions.
“The job site and schedule were challenging from the start, but Colonial Systems kept us on track and on budget through to the end regardless of the obstacles,” said a key contact from Strategic Workspaces, the DIRTT dealership involved in the project.
Gene Kosman, the CEO of Colonial Systems, said, "The success of any project hinges on the quality of its team members, and we were very fortunate to be teamed with Strategic Workspaces and Offices Resources on this project."