As a prototype for future salvaging and recycling efforts, the Big Dig House reuses this discarded infrastructure as building components. These materials were not cut or altered in any major way in an effort to prove that infrastructure can be reused ‘as-is’ as well as to keep labor costs at a minimum. The result was a rough framing duration that lasted 3 days as opposed to 3 weeks if standard materials and techniques had been used.
You might be familiar with Boston’s Big Dig, a megaproject that rerouted Interstate 93, the Central Artery that runs through the heart of Boston, into a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) tunnel under the city. Often overlooked is the massive amount of waste that accompanied construction at this scale, namely the dismantling of the existing and temporary roadways.
The main structural components used throughout the house as floors and roofs are concrete and steel composite decking salvaged from the demolished I-93 offramps at the Charles River crossing. These panels, called ‘inversets’ as they were originally formed upside down, would have been particularly costly and inefficient to demolish or recycle as the integration of steel and concrete makes the separation of the two materials difficult.
The structural steel frame of the house once supported the double-decked temporary I-93 highway and offramps.
The use of recycled building components seem to complements the design. The original program called for a great room, kitchen, home office, 3 bedrooms, and 3 baths.
The result is a visually appealing residential dwelling that answers the requirements of the end-users, while integrating within its identity the appearance of the reutilized objects.
The house is sited on a 19,200sf wooded site on the edge of the Six Moon Hill, a residential community dwelling that was designed in the late 1940s by The Architects' Collaborative in Lexington, Massachusetts.
The design passed a rigorous design review process was mandated by the Six Moon Hill neighborhood review board which included members of The Architects Collaborative.
Sustainable design and universal design elements:
• Over 600,000 pounds of materials slated for either landfills or energy-intensive recycling was diverted and the embodied energy within these original materials was conserved.
• Roof gardens reduce run-off and insulate the building. Water captured from these gardens is stored in a salvaged concrete container underground and is used for watering the roofscapes.
• The thermal mass of the inverset panels allows the implementation of passive heating and cooling strategies.
• Energy efficient radiant floor heating is used throughout the house.
• Although the materials were massive, the siting and construction sequence was planned so that only 3 major trees were removed from this heavily wooded site.
• Salvaged materials from the Big Dig cedar rainscreen cladding, aluminum curtainwall, perforated metal, large stones from foundation excavation re-used on roofscapes.
Architects: SsD; Jinhee Park, AIA + John Hong AIA, LEED (principals in charge)
Construction Manager: Paul Pedini, Jay Cashman, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
Photography by SsD