How to Build a Skyscraper Expeditiously

By Janco Damas
BU News Service

Last week, Boston’s newest skyscraper “topped off.” The crew at that time had erected the tallest point of the construction.The feat comes two years since the very day construction broke ground on September 17, 2013. At the ground breaking commencement then-mayor Thomas M. Menino, with developers and a sizable crowd, watched as confetti fell in celebration. Mayor Menino concluded his term on January 6, 2014 after two decades in office. Menino died October 30, 2014 at the age of 71. He had advocated strongly for the construction of the Millennium Towers particularly as the old Filene’s site lay fallow in 2008.

“This iconic development will invigorate the heart of our city with new residents, business owners and private investment, solidifying the promise of Downtown Crossing,” said Menino in a statement to the Boston Business Journal in September 2012 when the city approved the project. By “invigorate” Menino could have been talking about the economic stimulus from jobs created through the project. Aside from the economic impact, one wonders what cultural value the building will add to Boston living.

But everyday citizens of Boston do not seem particularly excited about the project, and why should they be?

For a budget of $630 million the developers leave the City of Boston with 442 luxury apartments, 95,000 square feet of retail space, and the neighborhoods first large scale grocery store, Roche Bros. Inside the tower will be a restaurant by famed chef Michael Mina that is closed to the public. Many of the amenities offered in the tower are for the exclusive privilege of its residents. Yet living in the tower is a privilege for which Boston’s elites are clamoring.

“Sales have ranged from $900,000 for a one-bedroom to more than $10 million for a penthouse,” according to the Boston Herald. Already, more than 90 percent of the 442 condos are sold in deals amounting to over $800 million calculated Curbed.com, the popular real estate analysis website. Curbed also estimates that 30% of the new owners are not local buyers. The building has been described by some including the former Mayor as a new era for Boston. With housing prices already up against the reaches of a common salary, it remains undecided if this is the future best for the whole of Boston.

Nonetheless the feat of engineering is impressive. Consider the John Hancock Tower, tallest building of the Boston skyline, constructed in eight years. The pace was quicker in the four years to build Prudential Tower. The Federal Reserve Bank designed with the aesthetic of a Venetian Blind and substantially fewer trimmings still took eight years to build. Indeed, for Boston, the Millennium Tower was built with unprecedented alacrity. The world record for constructing a skyscraper likely belongs to a Chinese firm for erecting a 57 floor skyscraper in 19 working days. A rapid time lapse shows the construction from start to finish. One immediately notices the six Chinese cranes working simultaneously to the Millennium’s single crane.

Below are some milestones marking the impressive speed at which Millennium Tower has come to fruition.

Millenium Building Tall

The Millennium Tower September 24th 2015 nearing completion two years after breaking ground. (Photo by Janco Damas)

Millennium_Tower_construction,_18_August_2014

Millennium Tower in mid-August, 2014. The first floor has been added with the second underway. (Photo by Knowledgekid87)

Millennium_Tower_construction,_29_May_2014

Millennium Tower in late May 2014 approaches street level. (Photo by Knowledgekid87)

Millennium_Tower_construction,_2_May_2014

The Millennium Tower on May 2, 2014. The prior week workers had poured concrete continuously for 30+ hours to fill 6,000 cubic-yards with a reported $6 million worth of concrete. (Photo by Knowledgekid87)

Old Filenes bldg

May 2008 the old Filene’s Department store at Washington and Summer Street in Downtown Crossing where the Millennium Tower stands today.

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