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How to Move an 880-Ton Building

by Lark Turner

How to Move an 880-Ton Building: Figure 1
The completed project, which will incorporate 13 buildings that contribute to the Mt. Vernon Square Historic District.

A massive office and retail redevelopment planned for the triangle-shaped block adjacent to the Convention Center will begin the trickiest phase of construction this month: Moving an 880-ton historic carriage warehouse just 35 feet.

The project from Douglas Development at 655 New York Avenue NW (map) will include 420,000 square feet of retail and office space, with about 71,000 of that going to retail uses. But constructing the 10-story building, which will include more than 300 underground parking spaces, is complicated: Thirteen of the buildings on the block are designated historic and require special attention from the developer.

To that end, DAVIS Construction is charged with relocating two of the buildings, which would otherwise be marooned in the middle of the planned project. They’ll be repositioned to sit next to their turn-of-the-century peers. The 880-ton carriage warehouse at 639 New York Avenue, which is moving this month, will be relocated east of the site, where the new building will eventually cantilever over its roof. An 1,100-ton warehouse at 632 L Street NW, which will be moved late this summer, will be placed on the west end of the site.

“It allows us to consolidate the site,” said Joe Baker, the senior project manager for the move. “Otherwise we have these two structures in the middle of the excavation, which is not feasible.”

The team first had to get the building ready to move by repointing the mortar joints in the brick and constructing a steel latticework to further support the structure. To begin the moving process, two large steel beams, which sit on cribbing or wood blocks, are run underneath the building, Baker explained. The steel beams contain hydraulic jacks that, when operated, can slowly separate the building from its foundation walls.

Once the building moves away from the foundation, it’s raised six feet above the ground. Then the building will be rolled on a rail using a hydraulic beam. The process moves the building just five feet at a time…slowly.

“That five feet doesn’t go very fast,” Baker told UrbanTurf.

The move alone will take two to three days and will start later this week. The project is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2018.

See other articles related to: mt. vernon square, douglas development, davis construction

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how_to_move_an_880-ton_building/9757

1 Comment

  1. Marcio Wilges said at 6:19 am on Tuesday November 24, 2015:
    I thought they were talking hypothetically or theoretically about moving the building, or getting office movers in to move the things in the building, but to lift the whole thing off the floor?

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