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Gardiner Building’s Chart House

Gardiner Building’s Chart House


Structure Information

[Figure 1: Gardiner Building’s Chart House]   

Chart House, once known as Gardiner Building, is located on Boston’s historic pier Long Wharf, at 60 Long Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, USA. Gardiner Building was built in 1763 after the 1710 to 1721 construction of Long Wharf.

The Gardiner Building was once used as office space and cargo storage. Captain Oliver Noyes constructed Long Wharf and the buildings that occupy it, including the Gardiner Building. The historic pier, Long Wharf, once served as the heart of Boston’s maritime trade and was leased to the government for customs work.

Historical Significance

The entire pier was built from a 2,200-foot-long barricade composed of a wharf of stone and wood piles. Gardiner Building House was built with large cellars that would store cargo, then later sell the same cargo at its doors. There was nothing really structurally innovative or new about this building. It is a basic three-story brick and concrete, routinely shaped house.

Cultural Significance

Chart House is Long Wharf’s oldest surviving structure and was once home to the offices of John Hancock, also known as John Hancock’s Counting House. The historic restaurant attracts many different people from your fascinated Boston tourist, to your everyday Bostonian who just loves the food, and the experience of Gardiner Building’s Chart House. I do not know of any backlash or outright love for the construction of Gardiner Building, as well as the human cost in the building it, but I can imagine a relatively low human cost for this uncomplicated, three-story building. Today the structure serves as delicious, historic waterfront restaurant, and a great place for date with your significant other, or maybe even a lonely happy hour.

Structural Art

In my opinion the Gardiner Building does not demonstrate structural art. According to David P. Billington, structural art gives equal weight to the three E’s of a structure: efficiency, economy, and elegance. Although the structure may exhibit efficiency and economy, it does not showcase elegance, therefore it cannot be referred to as structural art. In regard to efficiency the structure was built on a historic pier with the use of old materials, while money and time seemed to be used successfully, and without waste. As for economy, the structure was used offices and storage space during Boston’s colonial era. Nevertheless, the structure is an uninteresting three-story house, therefore is does not present structural art.

Structural Analysis

The Gardiner building is the great grandfather of all buildings on Boston’s waterfront, so engineers had been watching it closely. In 2001 Gardiner started showing its age, and monitoring indicated that the structure was in danger of crumbling. As a result, PAF architects worked with a team of engineers and construction mangers to save little old Gardiner. They used low overhead drilling equipment when repairing the exterior walls, in an effort to protect the original structure. Reinforced concrete was used as rebar for new subgrade beams as the support for the exterior walls. During the repair, temporary corner bracing was also added in order to save the integrity of Mr. Gardiner. This work was completed on a fast track schedule and took only about six months to accomplish. I guess the people of Boston were eager to see Mr. Gardiner up a running again.


[Figure 2: Load path of the Gardiner Building]

Load Path Analysis

Red : Surface load

Green : Point load

Blue : Uniform load

The roof of the structure has a uniform surface load, from its own weight, and any wind, snow, or birds it may encounter. The chimney applies a point load on the section of the roof that supports it. The roof is then supported by beams that receive and uniform line load from the roof. The beams are then supported by trusses that receive point loads from the points of intersection. There are numerous arches throughout the building that all receive uniform loads from beams they support. The arches are also subject to point loads in the downwards direction from their columns. The concrete beams collect a uniform load from the beams they support and transfer the specific load back to the columns of the structure. Lastly, the columns of the structure transfer a point load to the concrete base that supports them.

[Figure 3 : 3D load path of the top portion of the structure]

[Figure 4: Structural analysis calculations]


Dead load for concrete: 145 lbs/ft^3

Approximated tributary area: 180 lbs/ft^2

Approximate base length of arch: 10 ft

Approximate height of arch: 6 ft

W = (Dead load)(Tributary Area)

Selected arch supports a uniform load

 Fmax is the maximum force applied to the arch as well as the maximum force the arch applies to the beam that supports it.


[Figure 5: Me wishing I could afford to eat at Chart House]




Personal Response

You all may be wondering why I would pick such a random structure, and I can honestly say I did not plan this. The cheapest way to London, resulted in a seven-hour layover in Boston. I am always one to make the best out of any situation, so I decided to explore the city. Initially I was just looking for a good, unique, cheap place to eat, but in my journey, I stumbled upon an exquisite, historic waterfront. I did not end up eating at Chart House because my funds are a bit rocking at the moment and it did not meet my criteria of a cheap place to eat, but I did get a great blog post idea from it. If I would have just seen this structure in a book or a video I would not have been able to appreciate the beauty of the location of the structure and its rich history. The entire waterfront has an inimitable exquisiteness that captures the historic aroma Boston.