flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Robust structural frame supports historic building renovation in Newport, R.I.

billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Sponsored Content

Robust structural frame supports historic building renovation in Newport, R.I.

Mark Halverson | November 19, 2014

Photo: APAThe Engineered Wood Association

The Audrain Building on Newport’s celebrated Bellevue Avenue was designed by New York architect Bruce Price in the early 1900s with intricate exterior detailing that exudes an enduring sense of luxury and tradition. Its recent renovation from a worn-around-the-edges modified office building into a car museum and upscale work space affirms its role as gilded historian, with an authentic blend of vintage charm and high-end appeal that has anchored this block of the Newport National Historic Landmark District for more than a century.

On the high-ceilinged first floor, golden-era automobiles and muscle cars will glisten through full-height windows. Above, new offices make better use of the space while maintaining the particular air of elegance that's expected of this location.

But getting to that point required some heavy lifting from a new, more robust building frame.

Strong Support

Upon completion, the car museum will house a range of vintage autos, including a WWII-era vehicle weighing in at one-and-a-half tons. Engineer Mike Camera of Camera/O’Neill Consulting Engineers knew that the original 2x12 flooring system would need to be removed and replaced to accommodate the additional weight. 

The team at Parker Construction kept the outer shell and the original brick bearing walls, which divide the basement into six sections. On the ground floor, the structure was framed with steel columns and then 20-foot, 3-1/2-inch-by-9-1/2-inch glulam beams from Anthony Forest Products, spaced 12 inches on center, spanning each bay. The glulam not only accomplished the span requirements for the frame, but also was more readily available than other framing alternatives the design team considered.



Though the beams will be largely unseen in the low basement storage area and were coated with fire retardant, “The glulam was milled so well, we could have left them exposed,” says David Louttit, project manager at Parker Construction. 

Structural-rated Douglas-fir 2x6 timbers run perpendicular to the glulam beams, with ¾-inch tongue-and-groove CDX plywood in between. For the second-floor frame, exposed steel trusses provide an industrial look.

Vintage Feel

While the project sports a new frame, the team took great care to preserve as many of the original decorative elements as possible, including ornamental metal and millwork. The front façade features the original brick, intricate terracotta around the windows, and similarly ornate roof cornices. The arch-top windows reach from the first floor through to the office space upstairs. A new set of bi-fold doors, fabricated to reflect the original windows, provides a wide entrypoint for the display vehicles.

Along with the challenges of preserving the look and beefing up the frame, the construction team faced severe time constraints: a schedule with less than half the normal turnaround time. To accommodate, Louttit had crews on site 16 hours a day, seven days a week; they also shrink-wrapped the structure to eliminate the weather variable.

“Our company specializes in investing in employees willing to give 110 percent,” says Louttit. “So we can get it done faster while working closely with the architect to ensure each element, from the structure to the decorative work, is exact and precise.” 

This level of care befits the Audrain Building, whose architectural details have graced its corner of Newport's famed historic district for more than a century.

To read more case studies on commercial projects featuring engineered wood structural framing, become a member of  APA Designers Circle at www.apawood.org/designerscircle. A free online community for architects, engineers, and other members of the commercial building industry, Designers Circle provides timely information, technical resources, continuing education, and recommendations for innovative wood-frame construction.

More from Author

Mark Halverson | Oct 26, 2016

Compelling conversations about wood: East and West Coast regional challenges

Fast-rising designers Ben Kasdan and Blake Jackson offer candid perspectives from both coasts on the merits—and challenges—of designing with wood and compare notes on how architects can change perceptions by dreaming big and pushing boundaries.

Mark Halverson | Oct 13, 2016

Engineered wood provides sustainable options, cost savings, and design flexibility

Designers choose engineered wood to deliver strength, stability, and a sustainable solution for complex structural designs

Mark Halverson | Aug 22, 2016

Mind the Gap

Temporary Expansion Joints in Large Structures

Mark Halverson | Jul 21, 2016

Economical, energy-efficient roof assemblies

Not all roof and ceiling assemblies are created equal, especially when it comes to energy performance.

Mark Halverson | Jul 5, 2016

Takeaways from 2015 Texas tornadoes: Construction details make a difference

Stronger building components combined with more intentionally constructed connections can mean the difference between buildings that withstand tornadoes and those that don’t.

Mark Halverson | Nov 20, 2015

Schooling the visitor

Exposed glulam and other engineered wood products help WSU tell its technology story

Mark Halverson | Aug 25, 2015

Engineered wood helps meet booming demand for multifamily projects

Multifamily housing starts reached 358,000 in 2014, a 16 percent increase over 2013 and the highest total since 2007

Mark Halverson | Jul 29, 2015

Glulam provides aesthetic, structural, and safety solution for Appleton Mills project

The Appleton Mills complex includes 5 million square feet of space, with an original structure built in the 1870s and another building added in 1906

Mark Halverson | Jun 30, 2015

Which Is More Efficient: Wood Walls or Steel and Masonry With Continuous Insulation?

By nature, wood has nearly four times the thermal resistance of steel or masonry

Mark Halverson | Jun 5, 2015

Exposed glulam framework offers quiet complement to Jackson Hole airport’s mountain backdrop

A three-phase expansion and renovation, which began in 2009, nearly doubled the size of the aviation hub; the only one located in a national park

boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021


Magazine Subscription

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.


Follow BD+C: