Professor Alfred LeBlanc
15 March 2014
The Clark Biscuit Building
The building I chose to do my research assignment on is the Clark Biscuit Building here in North Adams, MA. The building is actually three buildings, the Icing building was built first, then the Boiler House and finally the Baking building. The Icing building, built in 1913 and was followed later that year by the Boiler House. The Baking building was built in 1922 as part of an ambitious modernization of the facility. The facility was originally a large scale bakery and has recently been converted to apartment housing.
The Icing building is of Type IV construction as were most of the “Mill buildings” of that era in North Adams. I believe the building is Type IV for several reasons, first being the main structure of the building. It has exterior masonry supporting walls with large timber interior structural components. There are no obvious buttresses although one could argue that the single wythe vertical columns that adorn the exterior could be considered buttresses. There are also masonry columns throughout the building, these columns progressively get smaller going from the basement to the top floor. The Icing building was used as it’s name suggests but also housed the finishing and shipping departments. It now houses apartments on its four floors and storage and laundry facilities in its basement.
The Boiler House is of Type II construction. I say it is Type II because it has bare steel interior structural members with a masonry exterior. The roof system is a metal truss system, unsure if it is cast iron or steel. As the buildings’ name implies, it’s original purpose was to house the facility’s heating boiler. Since the renovation of the complex it has been converted into offices for the support staff of the housing complex.
The Baking building is of Type I construction. This is because the building is built of reinforced concrete. With poured in place concrete floors and large concrete columns. This building housed 4 large brick ovens, one on each floor of the building. It has sense been converted to apartments and brought up to current fire code to include full sprinkler systems, and a fire alarm system.
This complex would provide many challenges to my department if it were ever involved in a large fire incident. First of all being its size, it would immediately become overwhelming to the responding group seeing we run a six man group and most days only have five. Mutual aid would be essential if there was moderate fire involvement. Next would be the evacuating all of people who occupy the building. It has 44 apartments and evacuating all of the occupants with the limited manpower that we have would be a big undertaking. The complex is located in a fairly congested area of the city and finding an area to move the occupants to would be an issue as well. We would most likely utilize a former National Guard armory that the city owns that is located down the street. Another challenge to this building would be if the fire was in the middle part of the building, our standard high-rise kit only has 100ft of hose so we…