Project Spotlight: Improving Project Accuracy and Quality with Laser Scanning Technology at 500 Atlantic Ave

Project Spotlight: Improving Project Accuracy and Quality with Laser Scanning Technology at 500 Atlantic Ave

Boston’s rich history and famous landmarks are what make it one of the most popular cities in the United States.

While it may not boast flashy landmarks like the Empire State Building or Golden Gate Bridge, Boston is home to sites filled with history, character, and significance. DGT is always proud to be a part of highlighting those historic locations and giving them new life. That’s exactly what happened at 500 Atlantic Avenue.

One Landmark with Many Stories to Tell

Based on surveys from 1852 and geographical evidence, Liverpool Wharf, in Boston’s Seaport District, is said to be the same location as the former Griffins Wharf, the very location of the Boston Tea Party. Throughout the 20th century, that wharf was home to a major power station serving Boston’s Central Business District and was operated by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company (later dubbed Boston Edison Company). DGT’s legacy firms, Aspinwall & Lincoln and the William S. Crocker Co., worked directly with Boston Edison during the 1920s-1960s to provide various maps and surveys to support the development of the facilities on and around the wharf.

The Big Dig

In the 1990s that same wharf was located adjacent to the underground Central Artery/Tunnel projects, infamously known as the Big Dig, a project working to replace the elevated southeast expressway. Due to the scale of the Big Dig, the power station at Liverpool Wharf was acquired by Massachusetts Highway Department to house one of the ventilation buildings needed for the new tunnel system. Interestingly, one of the vents was designed with the sale of future air rights in mind. This meant they could sell the rights to build a structure vertical of the vent. Knowing that commercial development was likely for this valuable waterfront parcel in the heart of the city, the ventilation shafts contained an embedded network of steel anchors to serve as structural support for a building, as well as rubber isolation pads to minimize the transfer of vibrations.

Building Boston’s Premier Luxury Waterfront Property

Sure enough, site ownership was transferred yet again and this time landed with Extell Development. Extell Development, a commercial real estate developer, had plans to build Intercontinental Hotel and Residences, which would hold 130 luxury condos and 424 hotel rooms—with a project price tag of around 310 million dollars.

To assist with the waterfront development, Extell Development hired a large project team including Gunther Engineering, DGT’s immediate predecessor. Gunther Engineering was hired to assist with land surveying and air right buildouts. However, when Gunther Engineering’s crew began surveying, they were faced with a unique challenge. They needed to provide the positional locations of the embedded steel plates in the 237-foot-high twin concrete ventilation shafts with sufficient accuracy for the pre-fabrication of the new hotel’s steel beams. For a task this size, traditional surveying methods would not suffice.

Looking for a solution to their problem, Gunther Engineering called a local competitor and neighbor in the Boston Seaport district, DGT Associates. In 2003 DGT had recently acquired its first 3D laser scanner, making them an innovator and industry expert. In a successful joint venture, DGT was able to use the 3D laser scanner to capture a complete picture of the ventilation shafts. With the accuracy of DGT’s survey, the erection of Intercontinental’s steel frame was a smooth and successful project.

Today, the three-acre site at 500 Atlantic Ave is graced by the 20-story, mirror-glass-faced Intercontinental Boston Hotel and Residences, with a public-access plaza as part of the Boston Harborwalk. Not only did this project add a unique landmark to Boston, but it added to the unique DNA of DGT.

Boston’s waterfront neighborhood: About Boston. Boston’s Waterfront. (n.d.).