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Loureiro Teams Collaborate To Build Hartford Up With Cathedral Community Center

Loureiro Teams Collaborate to Build Hartford Up with Cathedral Community Center

Bringing new purpose to an old, neglected building is both exciting and challenging. So Loureiro Engineering Associates (LEA) was eager to help three great Hartford community organizations fulfill their vision of reviving old cathedral grounds for the campus of a brand new community center. Not only was our cross-functional team a great fit for navigating these challenges, but the motivation behind the project was also right in line with Loureiro’s commitment to serving our community — and making it a better place for everyone to live.

Until now, the Malta House of Care relied on a mobile van to provide healthcare services to the community, while Archdiocese of Hartford and The Hartford Bishops’ Foundation had outgrown the small space in which they provided food and clothing handouts. So the $8 million renovation was to convert a centuries old, abandoned catholic school into a new community center which would house a health clinic, medical offices, and a food pantry. From its start in 2019, the project tapped into Loureiro’s structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and civil engineering services, as well as landscape architecture. 

“There was a major structural component to this project,” Tristan Wallace, Loureiro Senior Project Manager, explained. “Older sites present a lot of challenges in redeveloping a new design into smaller spaces. We had to cut the building down the middle, removing half of it to make space for additional parking, filling the pool on the lower level to accommodate the food pantry, and reconfiguring the second and fourth floors into medical facilities and offices. And everything exterior had to be completely redone — new landscaping, storm water drainage systems, and extensive site development.”

Working as a cross-functional entity, relying on each team’s individual expertise was a key benefit to efficiently adjust to any major changes to the master design throughout construction. 

“With a building this old, there were very few blueprints available for us to rely on. One challenge that we faced on the structural design was gathering information on concrete reinforcement. You can make some assumptions based on the age of the building and construction techniques available, but you really can’t see behind the walls to know what’s supporting the building,” Matt Quaranta, Vice President, Facility Engineering, added. “Our lead structural team collaborated with our Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) team to confirm the size and location of concrete reinforcement and update the design using that data. The building also had very tight tolerances for utility connections and grading, so our civil and mechanical teams had to coordinate everything, inside and out. Since we could communicate efficiently across teams, we could quickly pivot whenever we needed to.”

Sometimes, that meant getting creative. With such large utility restraints, LEA had to create their own system as to how and where to store the storm water with a next level attention to detail, down to the inch. But the extra effort actually became the springboard for regulatory policies across the Metropolitan District (MDC). “MDC was impressed by our thoughtfulness and level of detail in our design, so will be using it to evaluate their policies for designs moving forward,” Tristan shared.  

But the impact this new community center will have on the Hartford area is by far the biggest win for LEA — further led by our CEO, Brian Cutler’s, active role on the board of the Archdiocese of Hartford organization. 

“It was very valuable having one team working cohesively on so many different areas of this project,” Paul Connery, Director of Property & Assets Archdiocese of Hartford, said. “Loureiro’s contributions will support our neighbors on Asylum Hill in Hartford by increasing the amount of patients Malta House of Care will serve by 2.5x and expanding the mission of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Food Pantry for those in need.” 

“One of our duties as engineers is to hold the public welfare as paramount with our work, so this is an incredible opportunity to support a project with a top purpose of serving the public,” Matt added. “We’re proud and inspired to play a role in providing much needed services to the people in these communities.”

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