Case Study: Scaffolding to Repair the Women’s Museum in Downtown Washington, D.C.

Posted on December 22, 2022 in Case Studies, Scaffolding

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington D.C. champions the work of women artists through exhibits, online content, programs, and collections. NMWA has been located in the same building since it first opened in 1983.

As time went by, the 112-year-old iconic building was starting to show signs of its age—exterior cornices and designs were crumbling, and the original windows were cracked. Because of this, the Board decided it was time to raise the money needed for a restoration and re-imagination.

In August of 2021, the museum closed its doors, and construction work began on a multi-year total renovation of the interior and exterior of the building. Grunley Construction Company won the contracting bid and hired Scaffolding Solutions to provide the necessary scaffolding for the project. 

An Intricate and Heavy Challenge

The building itself was constructed in 1908 in the Classical Revival style, and it features an intricate terracotta design, cornices, and other complex architectural elements. Construction workers would need to remove each of the 1,200lb exterior stones and very carefully place them onto the scaffolding. 

This project had several unique challenges, such as the delicate exterior, shoring under the north and south vaults to support scaffolding, and a uniquely-engineered trolley system. Compression ties into the windows were also required.  Extensive in-house testing and engineering shop drawings were developed.

Grunley had very specific access needs that made this a highly complex job. They needed to 

get within 8 inches of access all over the building. The drawings also required Scaffolding Solutions to match and reflect the layout, while the scaffolding had to be strong enough to support the weight of the 1,200lb stones.

The Solution

Scaffolding Solutions immediately got to work and incorporated a variety of unique features into the design:

  • Lateral stability was provided by utilizing scaffolding compression ties on the lower half of the building and brick anchors above the limestone
  • Access scaffolding that extends above the hoist operations on the 5th floor
  • Shoring beneath the North and West elevation vaults- including shoring for the construction and scaffolding loads
  • Netting on scaffolding including the decorative netting on the west side – seen in the image to the right. The netting is a mural by the notable artist MISS CHELOVE.
  • Interior needle beam shoring (Needle shoring to support party wall for the new door)
  • Custom designed dual-direction trolley beam connections

After Scaffolding Solutions set up the scaffolding, construction workers realized that the stones were three times larger than initially anticipated. 

Scaffolding Solutions immediately got to work strengthening the scaffolding to support the massive weight of the stones. Despite this unforeseen issue, they kept the project on time.

Result

Grunley Construction Company and the subcontractors are happy with the scaffolding work and Scaffolding Solution’s strict adherence to the specific contract duration to meet all timelines. The project is currently ongoing as of the writing of this case study, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts is scheduled to re-open to the public in Fall 2023. 

The Sr. Project Manager at Grunley Construction sent Scaffolding Solutions an appreciation note for our assistance on this project:

“We really appreciate your assistance with this. It wouldn’t have come together without your help. Seriously, well done and thank you!”

– Kaitlyn Poland, Sr. Project Manager,
Grunley Construction

The Exhibition Coordinator of the museum was thrilled with the progress and sent a personalized note addressed to Scaffolding Solutions and Grunley Construction, praising their work on the custom netting that was made by a local muralist of note:

“Please pass my praise along to everyone with Grunley and Scaffolding Solutions who worked on this – especially the crew that was up on the scaffolding making all the many little adjustments! This has certainly been a collective and collaborative effort, and I’m so appreciative of all involved.”

– Hannah Shambroom
Exhibition Coordinator, National Museum of Women in the Arts

After a few more months of working together, the Exhibition Coordinator of the museum sent us another note regarding their experience working with Grunley Construction and Scaffolding Solutions:

“Katharina and her team couldn’t stop talking about how much they enjoyed working with all of you, and how wonderful the collaboration between all parties was”

– Hannah Shambroom, Exhibition Coordinator, National Museum of Women in the Arts

Scaffolding Solutions team making adjustments to the custom netting.
Museum and Scaffolding Solutions team members working together to ensure the custom netting is placed correctly.

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Customer Testimonials

The team at Scaffold Solutions really got me out of a bind this past week. Set-up scaffold on Saturday morning and came back Sunday morning to take it back down. Communication was great, speed and safety were excellent and price was fair. I appreciate the solid communication and follow-up from their team and they did a great job helping me get the steel installed in the elevator shaft. Thank you!
Kevin Taylor
Kevin Taylor
16:01 24 Jan 23
I recently had my fourth floor loft terrace enclosed. Scaffolding Solutions, LLC is the only choice you need to ensure your project is successful! Frank Giuliano visited my home and assessed the area, then coordinated with the Patio Enclosure installation manager to build a custom design that was efficient for the project. Frank’s customer service was remarkable. He constantly communicated updates and I felt very comfortable contacting him with any questions. The scaffolding crew only took one day to assemble and disassemble the scaffold without incident. They were pleasant, professional and respectful of my property. Hands down this was the best experience and I definitely recommend Scaffolding Solutions, LLC.
Giselle Allen
Giselle Allen
15:21 27 Nov 22
el lugar luce muy bonito, la atención muy amable
Muy bueno
Andi Lopez
Andi Lopez
17:30 20 Mar 19
Fantastic company
David Bucciarelli
David Bucciarelli
14:26 29 Sep 18
i love the work they did at DC
Matthew Aleman
Matthew Aleman
17:48 27 Jan 18
Great company and innovative scaffolds!
Jose Pietri
Jose Pietri
18:58 10 Nov 17
The best service and competitive pricing!
Diana DuVall
Diana DuVall
21:01 09 Nov 17
I work here
Tony Bullock
Tony Bullock
15:23 09 Jul 17
Scaffolding Solutions... All I can say is "WOW". I was impressed with the professionalism, courtesy and efficiency of the complete experience.
Timmy Willoughby
Timmy Willoughby
14:06 04 May 17
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