PORTLAND, ME – In appreciation of the great efforts taken to preserve historic properties across the state, Maine Preservation recognized Consigli Construction Co., Inc., for its outstanding work to restore Coles Tower at Bowdoin College. The “2015 Statewide Historic Preservation Honor Award for Restoration” specifically acknowledged the company’s craftsmanship and engineering to repair the exterior of the building.
“This building presented enormous logistical problems for us to solve,” said Project Executive Matt Tonello. “We’re very proud of our work to innovate and provide solutions to these obstacles that allowed us to restore Coles Tower so that it is once again the social center of campus.”
Featuring a base that flares 10 feet wider from the top, a roof parapet incapable of bearing the load of swing staging and concrete window soffits too deep to access, the building proved a difficult challenge for the Consigli team to access.
To overcome the hurdles, Consigli engineered and permanently installed roof tie offs and fall protection supports so that masons could access the entire building via swing staging. At the same time, Consigli craftspeople used a 180-foot ultra-boom lift for the first time in the Northeast to access other areas of the façade. Repairs included major restoration work to the brick and stone elements of the building,
Even more remarkable, the work was completed over an intensive two shift, six day per week schedule over 11 weeks between the spring and fall semesters.
Though the dormitory, built in 1964 and designed by architect Hugh Stubbins, remained an iconic symbol of the social change academic institutions went through at the time, several years of exposure to harsh winter elements caused the 16-story building to suffer from exposed steel, falling limestone, and major cracking in the exterior.
At one time Maine’s tallest building, the 16th floor of the tower hosted pioneering seminars, educational experiments and visiting professors who encouraged progressive collaboration like pacifist Norman Thomas. WBOR, the college’s radio station known for recording Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech on social accountability during his visit in 1964, also operates from the 16th floor. The tower reopened in August 2014.