Mass. Bay Transit Authority Salem International Commuter Rail Station Parking Structure
To provide a cost-efficient structure that could be built quickly and fit into the neighborhood’s architectural style, designers specified a total-precast concrete structure for the new five-story, 690-car parking structure at the MBTA train station in Salem, Massachusetts.
“Besides using precast because of its added value economically and in construction-time reduction, we also saw its value as a durable system that could blend in with the surrounding historic buildings in Salem,” explains Deborah Fennick, principal at Fennick McCredie Architecture, the architectural firm on the project.
The 238,000-square-foot structure was built with a variety of precast concrete structural components, comprising double tees, columns, beams, shear walls, stairwells, and spandrels. The spandrels feature architecturally colored concrete with surface-bonded brick masonry. Portions were lightly sandblasted and textured using a formliner throughout the casting process. Unistress Corp. in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, fabricated the precast concrete components.
A formliner pattern was used to create the image of train wheels on the façade, rising several stories tall. Unistress worked closely with Fitzgerald Formliners in Santa Ana, California, to find the most efficient way to create the form and fabricate the spandrels with the patterns, which feature ribs serving as a background for smooth wheel forms. Fitzgerald’s technical representative spend a week at the Unistress plant to ensure the production moved smoothly.
The construction had to work around the commuter rail line, which remained operational during the work. A just-in-time delivery schedule was created due to the activity, congestion, size of the components, and lack of staging space on site. “The project team implemented the JIT inventory delivery strategy, carefully planning around the city’s traffic trends to not interfere with normal daily traffic flow,” says Fennick. “Also, proximity to a live track made it challenging to maneuver pieces throughout the erection process.”
The construction team communicated closely to ensure the proper components were delivered as needed to minimize congestion and traffic delays. “Careful construction phasing and logistical planning had to be considered to maintain a functioning commuter rail line, with the safety of commuters a priority,” Fennick says. “Achieving this while also maneuvering large precast concrete elements to stay on schedule required close communication.”
The result is a highly functional building that blends with its neighbors while providing more parking for commuters. “One important added value that the precast concrete as a material provided was the precision of the different elements due to repetition and the ability to create intricate and custom forms with clean lines that reflected the design intent,” says Fennick.
Precast Specialty Engineer:
Structural Precast Elements:
• 256 double tees
• 30 columns
• 24 beams
• 22 shear walls
• 19 lite walls
• 4 lite wall tops
• 134 spandrels
• 21 wall panels
• 21 risers
• 2 long-run risers
• 2 slabs