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Tufts University - West Hall Project

Tufts University - West Hall Project

Medford, MA

Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project
Tufts University - West Hall Project

2007 MCAA International Excellence in Masonry Award Winner

Mason Contractor: Phoenix Bay State Construction Co., Inc.
Architect: Contacts Without Company

Project Description

Tufts University's West Hall, erected in 1871 as a dormitory for students at the college and the divinity school, is a four-story red brick and Nova Scotia sandstone building. Built in the Ruskinian Gothic style, it follows the design principles popularized by British art and social critic John Ruskin in the 1800's. Gradually over the years, due to a lack of maintenance and poorly executed repairs, much of the original architectural elements were removed from this classic building at the heart of Tufts' campus. In the spring of 2005, Payton Construction Corporation was charged with restoring its brick and sandstone exterior and slate roof to their original splendor.

West Hall was originally constructed with a slate roof and terra cotta trim. In the 1980's, the slate roof was in major disrepair, so Tufts University replaced it with asphalt shingles. Once the architect, Wendall Kalsow, AIA, Principal at McGinley Kalsow & Associates LLP, completed a feasibility study and an analysis of life cycle costs over 100 years, it became apparent that replacing West Hall's asphalt roof with slate would be more cost effective. So the roof was returned to its original vibrancy using Vermont unfading green and purple slate. The terra cotta trim was substituted with more durable and less expensive copper hip and ridge flashing. Replicas of the original roof cresting and finials were added, since they had been removed during one of the historic building's many renovations. The roof cresting was custom made of steel and cast iron. It is interesting to note that during restoration of the roof and decorative trim, 80% of the wood elements installed in the 1980's had to be replaced, while only 1% of those from 1871 needed replacement.

The restoration of the brick and sandstone was both complex and extensive; one hundred percent of the masonry had to be repointed. The replacement brick was manufactured in Maine, and required a lead-time of 6 months due the special 2-1/8 brick size. Two types of brick were used - flash brick and smooth red brick. The sandstone was purchased from a quarry in Nova Scotia, and required a lead-time of 16 weeks.

The careful cleaning of the brick and sandstone was another important part of the restoration process. A non-acidic detergent cleaner was used to clean the lightly soiled brick. The sandstone required a more delicate procedure. First, it was pressure washed using a baby powder-like substance - a very fine dolomitic limestone - at a low pressure of 15 psi. Once that was complete, the few remaining stains were cleaned with a gel alkaline product.

Rudi Pizzi, Deferred Maintenance Program Manager for Tufts University, could not be more pleased with West Hall's restoration. "This was a high-profile project, on a very tight site in the heart of campus. It was paramount this site remain spotless and for it to go off without a hitch - it's very close to the President's office! McGinley Kalsow and Payton did a tremendous job on this project."

“The MCAA is one of the most beneficial memberships that we have.”

Addison Kalish
KMI-Kalish Masonry, LLC
MCAA member since 2011

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