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Historic Building Prepped for New Life

Fri January 25, 2013 - Northeast Edition
Stanley Hurwitz

He sounds like a relative talking about preserving a family heirloom.

That’s how Tom Bigelow describes Bigelow & Fleming’s involvement in the restoration of the iconic Standard-Times Building, erected in 1894 in downtown New Bedford, Mass.

“We’re really proud and excited to be part of the team on this unique project,” he said. Bigelow is a founding principal of the company.

Bigelow & Fleming based in Easton, Mass., and celebrating its 10th anniversary, expects to hand over the shell to the owner/developer around the end of January — on time and on budget.

He said B & F was chosen by property owner The Columbus Group of Boston for the initial $2.5 million preparation phase of the historic renovation based on his firm’s track record. B & F has managed construction projects for such blue-ribbon clients as Gillette, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Babson College and Brandeis University, to name a few.

“In addition to new construction, we’ve built a reputation for breathing new life into old buildings,” Bigelow said.

The property, at 555 Pleasant St., opposite the public library, has been vacant since the Standard-Times newspaper moved to modern offices in 1995. The structure, designed by architects Peabody and Stearns, is in the Central New Bedford Historic District.

Joining Bigelow & Fleming on the renovation team are historic preservation consultants MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC of Washington, D.C., who have been working with the National Park Service to ensure fulfillment of federal tax credit requirements, and the Boston firm of Steffian Bradley Architects who designed the renovation.

“Our team’s assignment in the $6 million adaptive reuse project was to gut the five-story, 34,000 square-foot building to prepare it for build-outs that will ultimately house offices on floors 2 to 5 and a restaurant on the street level,” said Bigelow.

Among his key team members are Project Manager and Licensed Structural Engineer Mike Farrer, and Project Supervisor, John Arruda. Local trades people have been employed for the work.

“Removing everything down to the bricks and beams in a 19th century structure — without affecting the shell — takes a highly skilled team,” said Bigelow. “We’re right on schedule, preparing to turn over the shell to the owner in early 2013.”

The work included several complex components:

• Installation of a new elevator in the old air shaft

• Allow access and emergency egress for residents of the adjacent condos throughout this entire initial construction phase (occupied space renovation is a B & F specialty)

• Installation of new energy-efficient windows had to meet requirements of the Historical Commission

• Installation of new mechanical systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing and bathrooms) on every floor

Bigelow & Fleming’s renovation and ground-up construction work is primarily in southern New England and falls into these categories: biotechnology, education, corporate, healthcare and specialty construction.

“We’re excited about the critical part we’re playing to bring back the old Standard-Times Building and restore new life to this part of downtown New Bedford,” said Bigelow. “Our watchword is close collaboration, teamwork and communication. That combination brings our projects together seamlessly and without surprises.”

For more information, call 617/224-6990 or visit

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