Built For A Song

There are tight construction sites, and then there’s the Shalin Liu Performance Center site in Rockport, Mass.

Sandwiched between two commercial storefronts with six feet or less on either side, the new $13-million, 17,300-sq-ft home of Rockport Music and its popular summer chamber-music festival had no setback area at its front and the Atlantic Ocean lapping at its back door.

A materials-storage and laydown yard was located less than a mile from the jobsite, and just-in-time deliveries of timber framing and other large structural components were scheduled. The seaside town is such a popular destination that two-week-long construction shutdowns were required during the peak seasons to avoid disrupting nearby businesses.

‘We were in constant communication with the neighbors and the town,’ says Rich Scopelliti, project manager with Milford, Mass.-based Consigli Construction Co., the project’s construction manager and an AGC of Massachusetts member. Concessions came in all forms, from minimizing noise to erecting walk-through frames for pedestrians when jobsite equipment blocked shared access points.

‘A lot of times we were out there sweeping the alley,’ Scopelliti adds.

The daunting tasks faced by the construction manager were not lost on the local AGC chapter.

‘Building on a ledge-filled, oceanfront site and sandwiched between commercial buildings presented challenging site issues,’ says Mary Gately, director of market services for AGC of Massachusetts. ‘Building primarily during the non-tourist season of January through May in New England weather brought added meaning to [the words] ‘teamwork’ and ‘planning.’ ‘

The new performance center and 330-seat concert hall’ named after a generous donor and arts aficionado from Cambridge’opened in June 2010. Rockport is 25 miles northeast of Boston at the tip of Cape Ann. Primarily a residential suburb and tourist town, it is home to artists and lobster fishermen alike. For years, the town has hosted the month-long Rockport Chamber Music Festival every summer.

While the festival had grown in popularity and scope, its venue had not. When the 1860s-era Haskins Building property along Rockport’s Main Street became available several years ago, backers saw an opportunity to move the festival from its nearby cramped quarters to a world-class facility that would be designed and built especially for world-class instrumental performances.

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