The $260 million NewBridge on the Charles retirement community embraces a new cottage-style model for senior housing and was completed two months ahead of schedule.

Photo Courtesy Of Suffolk Construction

“This project was done in a relatively short period of time with a high density of construction,” says Robert Keaffer, project director for Suffolk Construction Co., in Boston. “There was a lot happening in a relatively small space in multiple buildings that are all connected together.”

Suffolk approached the 1 million-sq-ft project, started in September 2007, as a collection of individual jobs, with hybrid teams responsible for specific buildings and project managers acting as advocates for assigned trades throughout the campus. The company required subcontractors to staff the buildings with separate crews to avoid conflicts. Suffolk estimates it saved eight to 10 hours per week using Vela Systems and tablet PCs to carry plans, specifications and other documentation into the field.

The company delivered the project in four phases, at the owner’s request, starting with the 130,000-sq-ft Village Center—with an indoor pool, sauna, steam room, synagogue, three full kitchens, restaurants, a winter garden, therapy areas, library space and 30 residential independent living units—and 176 apartment-style units in four three- and four-story buildings sitting atop a 258-space, one-level underground parking garage. The plazas between the buildings form a green roof. In addition, the project includes 50 cottage-style units, ranging from 1,400 sq ft to 2,014 sq ft, completed two weeks later; followed by an 87-unit assisted living and memory care facility, two weeks after that; and wrapping up with a 250,000-sq-ft, 268-bed health center. Suffolk completed the job in September 2009.

The facility was constructed on 162 riverfront acres creating a challenging site for the design team, says Martin Siefering, a principal with Perkins Eastman Architects of Pittsburgh, Pa. “It was challenging and rewarding to work with the site and try to preserve as much of it as possible.”

During the preplanning process, teams strived to ensure the affect on the surrounding landscape would be as minimal as possible and to reduce the use of nonrenewable resources. In addition, Suffolk’s value engineering suggestions saved $3 million.

The team disrupted a minimal number of trees, saved trees for planting in a new courtyard, and recreated a meadow in the middle of the campus. The New England-style buildings, primarily clad in natural cedar, complement the natural landscape.

Although the owner, Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, decided not to pursue LEED certification, the project features many green elements, including a 408 closed-loop well geothermal system, used for heating and cooling. Suffolk dug the 500-ft-deep wells at the same time it was building the adjacent wood-frame buildings. The team located the wells within 150 of buildings to minimize tree removal.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: Hebrew SeniorLife, Roslindale, Mass.
General Contractor: Suffolk Construction Co., Boston*
Construction Manager: Leggatt McCall Properties, Boston
Architect: Perkins Eastman Architects, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Landscape Architect/Site Design: Stantec, New York

*Submitted Project to New York Construction