Historic Gasson Hall at Boston College was built in 1913. Falling victim to the ravages of time, parts of the building were disintegrating. The damage was so severe that some pieces had begun to fall off. The decision was made to replace the original cast stone pieces with new precast concrete, an undertaking that has become the largest cast stone restoration project in North America.
Experts were dispatched to the site to analyze the structure, dismantle it and redesign each piece — all assisted by computer. The next eleven months were devoted to preparing the molds and producing the new pieces; their installation on the tower of Gasson Hall required another fourteen months. It is hard to describe all the difficulties involved in creating exact replicas of the building’s original cast stonework. Many of the details on the original parts had worn away of the years and had to be restored by hand to recreate the original appearance before the “restored” piece could be used to make a mold.
In addition, much effort was devoted to developing a concrete mix that would simulate the original appearance, provide great durability and ensure the integrity of the building for years to come. Given the constraints of the jobsite and the delicacy of the operation, a strict protocol for delivery and handling was implemented to keep track of the 3,300 pieces. By using precast concrete with its capacity for innovative treatments, Boston College was able to restore the full splendor of Gasson Hall. That is what convinced the PCI jury that the project was worthy of the 2009 Design Award for Best School.