The project team installing markers to memorialize two sites where bombs exploded during the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing worked throughout the winter to ensure the project would be completed this summer. 

Heated tents erected around both sites allowed masonry and electrical work to continue during cold months, along with helical pile and foundation work.

But the tents also served another purpose: They protected four cherry trees on the sites. Two cherry trees planted at each site last fall was the project team’s way of recognizing a makeshift memorial around a damaged tree at the bombing site closest to the finish line. In the days after the attack, mourning runners, residents and visitors placed sneakers, ribbons and flowers around the tree arborists eventually said wouldn’t survive and needed to be uprooted.

The team planted the cherry trees with the hope that they would bloom in time for the 2019 marathon. “They did this year, that was incredibly exciting,” says Robert Corning, a senior principal and landscape architect for Stantec, which provided civil, structural, electrical and geotechnical engineering, as well as landscape architecture and permitting, entitlement and construction services for the project.

The timely bloom wasn’t a given. The trees are located inside the heated tents erected so workers could continue to work throughout the winter. The team worried exposure to high temperatures could cause the cherry trees to blossom prematurely. To avoid this fate, the team aerated the trees with “chimneys” built around “the portions of the trees that were inside the tent,” says Jake Lewson, a senior project manager at McCourt Construction, the project’s general contractor.  

The team removed the tents for this year’s marathon and installed a temporary installation displaying project renderings on stanchions bolted to the sidewalk where the permanent bronze spires would ultimately reside. Corning said throngs of pedestrians stopped to view the graphics the Friday before the marathon. “That was just for the temporary installation,” he said. “Wait until the actual permanent installation goes up. It’s going to be really dramatic.”

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