Massive Engineering

Massive Engineering

Pier 5 sits at the Head of the Boston Harbor at the confluence of the Mystic and Charles Rivers.  By virtue of this location, Pier 5 has incomparable and magnificent views of the entire Boston Harbor.  The Charlestown Navy Yard in which it sits served the needs of the U.S. Navy from 1800 until its closing in 1973.  The iconic Pier 5 has a long and storied history as a centerpiece for Naval construction and repair from when it was originally built in 1912, to its reconstruction with concrete and steel in 1943 until the closing of the Navy Yard.  The Navy Yard still remains the home of the U.S.S. Constitution and welcomes over 500,000 visitors each year.

Pier 5 consists of 1.9 acres of the Pier itself as well as 1.7 acres of adjacent watersheet.  Because of the nature of its heavy duty wartime construction projects, one could say that Pier 5 was “overbuilt”.  Consisting of a thick concrete slab supported by 1,645 steel H-plies used for deep foundation support on bridges and other maritime structures, the Pier was designed to hold 400 pounds per square foot of significant weight distributions.

Engineering Challenges:  The BPDA has obtained certain engineering reports to determine the “Existing Condition” of Pier 5.  The Childs Engineering Report dated 3/30/2018 concluded with an estimate of $16 million to demolish and rebuild Pier 5.  This assessment is predicated on demolishing and rebuilding the Pier to its original load bearing capacity and did not fully explore the possibility of restoring the existing Pier 5 to support lower loads of 100 pounds per square foot which is the State Building Code for public assembly.  Such an approach would  significantly lower costs and rehabilitate the pier in a more environmentally responsible way.  There are new pier restoration technologies that call for wrapping selective piles to create the supporting base necessary to allow for pedestrian level use of the Pier.  To our knowledge, this option has not been studied in depth for Pier 5.  The Pier 5 Association, Inc. has recently engaged a world class engineering firm to assess the alternative of revitalizing Pier 5 without having to demolish it, providing a lower cost option and a more environmentally-friendly solution.