An exciting and transformative project is underway that not only revitalizes a historic building, but also nurtures the next generation of builders and trade partners. Leggat McCall Properties (LMP) and Wise Construction, two industry leaders, have joined forces to convert the existing 100,000 SF, nine-story office building at 51 Melcher Street into a cutting-edge life science facility. But what has made this endeavor more than just a complex renovation to a historical landmark, is the early partnerships with The Furniture Trust and Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School which are helping us build a brighter, more sustainable future for the construction industry.
A Unique Partnership for a Sustainable Future with The Furniture Trust
The Furniture Trust (TFT), a remarkable non-profit organization, has made significant strides in giving a second life to lightly used office furniture, equipment, and supplies. Over the past decade, TFT’s donations have soared to over $30 million, with a remarkable $6 million contributed in the last year alone. Beyond the financial impact on local non-profits, TFT’s noble efforts have diverted a staggering 887 tons of material from landfills.
With efforts from LMP, TFT joined us on site at 51 Melcher Street, where upon inspection, it became evident that the furniture and fixtures did not belong in landfills. By extending our timeline, LMP and Wise were able to collaborate with TFT to catalog, remove, and rehome $289,055 worth of material ranging from kitchen appliances to workstations and artwork. This equated to a remarkable 162,805 pounds of donations that would have otherwise ended up in dumpsters. The three main beneficiaries included Madison Park High School, the Special Olympics of Massachusetts, and Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School. This is where Essex Tech joins our story!
A Curriculum in Construction with Essex Tech
Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School, a vocational school serving 17 communities on the North Shore, boasts a comprehensive construction program that encompasses Carpentry, Masonry, Labor, Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC. What sets Essex Tech apart is its commitment to hands-on field experience. Junior and senior students not only engage in academic and shop schedules, but also work off-campus with local municipalities and nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity. On-campus, they’re currently transforming the Larkin Cottage into a 150-person event space, complete with a historical museum, service kitchen, office space, and a learning lab. Unsurprisingly, field experience is a highlight for students, offering real-world applications that count toward their shop hours and, of course, adding more fun to their curriculum.
After our initial connection through TFT, Essex Tech reached out to understand what was left on site to be demolished, offering to join our efforts and see what else could be claimed and diverted from waste. The conversation about hosting Essex Tech students at 51 Melcher Street was initiated, and it quickly became apparent that our goals aligned. Essex Tech identified three specific areas of interest: lighting, HVAC, and millwork. Recognizing the potential for collaboration between Essex Tech, LMP, Wise, and our trade partners, we enthusiastically decided to welcome Essex Tech’s electrical and demolition students to put their skills to the test on an active job site.
Keeping our shared objective to repurpose as many systems from the building as possible in mind, the Essex Tech electrical students played a pivotal role in achieving this mission. Their primary task was to retrieve the building’s lighting systems. Under the supervision of Essex Tech teachers, Wise, and our trade partners, these lights were carefully uninstalled and skillfully reassembled on-site by the students before being transported back to Essex Tech. The result? Illuminated classrooms, now infused with a touch of history, thanks to the students’ invaluable contribution. In addition to the electrical students, Select Demo Services and our dedicated Wise field team coached the demolition students in the demo process and the specific removal of items from site.
“I think having the Essex Tech students visit an active jobsite in Boston will stick with them for a long time,” says Senior Superintendent Andrew Dell’Olio. “The students that attended throughout the three-to-four-week period shadowed some of the best Union voices in Boston. They learned from electricians about how to deal with live-power, professional demolition talking ‘Dos and Don’ts’ on an active site, and some of my own safety credited by my almost 30-year career span at Wise. The students took notes, listened attentively, and weren’t afraid to ask questions – I think this was a powerful learning experience for all those involved. Their hands-on experience with the demolition of walls, millwork, doors and frames, and the removal and reconfiguration of light fixtures that will be used on the Essex Tech campus, was extremely rewarding for myself and the trade partners being able to look through the eyes of our future generation.”
One of the most heartening aspects of this experience was the involvement of our Union trade partners. Despite concerns about overlapping scopes of work, our trade partners welcomed the help of the students with open arms. They actively participated in safety orientations, shared personal experiences, and supported the students’ work daily. Essex Tech’s time on-site culminated in a lunch where the students, instructors, and trade partners shared insights about the construction industry, unions, and the wealth of opportunities awaiting the next generation of builders upon graduation. This partnership is a shining example of how collaboration and mentorship are shaping the future of the construction industry.
A Renewed Focus on Education and Sustainability
The collaboration between The Furniture Trust, Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School, Leggat McCall Properties, Wise Construction, and our project at 51 Melcher Street has had a significant impact on the project’s sustainability initiative. Notably, the repurposing of materials aligns seamlessly with our project’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, further reinforced by our pursuit of LEED Gold certification. The experience of involving students from Essex Tech in our project served as a powerful reminder of the excitement and passion that drives our work.
Looking ahead, we’re eagerly anticipating an extended partnership with Essex Tech. Soon we’ll embark on a visit to their facilities, to gain insights into their trade shops, view their work on the transformative Larkin Cottage project, and see the repurposed lighting systems in action in their classrooms! As junior students return to school this Fall, we’re planning to host them back at 51 Melcher Street to witness the progress on site, as well as the differing stages of construction.
Leveraging our valuable trade partner relationships, we have a unique opportunity to connect ourselves and trade partners with these students, preparing them for the vibrant world of construction and beyond. As they prepare to graduate, we’re excited to expand their horizons, introducing them to large-scale, commercial projects. We aim to nurture the next generation of builders, providing them with expanded opportunities and robust networks right from the outset, setting the stage for their future success.
This ongoing partnership has been nothing short of extraordinary, providing a remarkable learning opportunity for all involved. Leggat McCall Properties and Wise are immensely proud to be at the forefront of this teaching process. It underscores the profound impact of collaboration, sustainability, and the transformative potential of repurposing resources in shaping a brighter future for both the construction industry and the generations that will define it.
Owner: GI Partners
Owner’s Project Services: Leggat McCall Properties
Architect: Studio Troika
MEP Engineer: BALA
Structural Engineer: Hayes & O’Neil
Civil Engineer: VHB
U.S Green Building Council (LEED GOLD)
The Furniture Trust
Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School