McGinley Kalsow & Associtates
  Needham Town Hall Recognized with MHC Preservation Award

May 2013: Needham Town Hall was recognized by the Massachusetts Historical Commission with a Preservation Award on May 23, 2013 at the Mass Archives. McGinley Kalsow & Associates led the team of preservation consultants that worked on the project .

The town of Needham engaged McGinley Kalsow & Associates to design a plan for Town Hall that would address overcrowding in the building, as well as the need for restoration due to years of deferred maintenance. Comprehensive renovations and code upgrades were needed for continued use of the Town Hall as the seat of town administration. Renovations were required to provide architectural accessibility for the public to the entire building. Outdated building systems as well as life safety issues of egress and overall fire protection needed to be addressed. Efficient operation of town government generated a desire to create a variety of types and sizes of meeting spaces for numerous town boards and commissions that met frequently at scattered sites throughout town. As the use program evolved, citizens expressed a strong desire to restore the original auditorium, to become a civic and cultural assembly space for the community. Restoration of the auditorium became a strong rallying feature for community support for the project. However, a challenge of this program was how to accommodate office space that would be displaced by restoration of the auditorium. The proposed solution was an addition to the building to allow expansion of required useable area. The addition also offered a good location for required new amenities and vertical circulation, efficiently stacking accessible toilet rooms, and accommodation of an elevator and egress stairs. The original Town Hall administration spaces and auditorium were restored, brought back to the 1903 period via a careful stripping away of subsequent finishes and alterations.

The building’s restoration and addition involved a very wide variety of trades and craftspeople to successfully complete this project. While up-to-date infrastructure for civic administration was sensitively added, a number of traditional craftspeople (such as those who gold-leafed the cupola dome, and restored and replicated historic trim) were also involved. While the new addition was a modern construction type of steel frame and masonry cavity wall, its complex detailing of masonry including concealed arch supports, required masons skilled with a restoration-based background. The Town Hall is once again the center of community and civic life in Needham. The newly restored auditorium, the James Hugh Powers Hall, now hosts a successful annual community concert series with four to six concerts each year.

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