Boston high-rise finds perfect fit in unitized curtain wall system

Installation best practices

While the Raffles project does have a tower crane onsite, in fact, nearly all the facade glass is installed by creeper cranes, which are small, portable cranes that sit within the building structure two or three levels above the floor, and using those, the modules are being installed. There are several functional advantages to this approach. For one, because the modules can be loaded directly onto the crane from within the building, this method eliminates the need to hoist large-format glass modules from ground level to high elevations, which reduces risk and minimizes complex and overlapping logistics on urban streets.

In a related vein, the creeper crane approach also frees up the project’s tower crane for other functions, including work on the superstructure. This creates
a much higher level of efficiency because it allows for simultaneous work, where concrete slabs can be formed and placed on upper levels at the same time the curtain wall is being installed on floors below. At the Raffles project site, taking this approach meant the building was almost fully enclosed by the time the structure topped out, with skilled trades conducting work inside the building at
the same time.

As Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel & Residences rapidly nears completion, it is evident the unitized curtain wall facade system played a significant role in realizing the client’s desire for a memorable skyline statement and an efficient, comfortable, and high-performing hotel and residential destination. While every curtain wall project is unique and requires an individualized set of solutions to overcome its own challenges, the Raffles tower should help building teams across the globe feel confident about this robust process and how it is possible to achieve successful results with the collaboration of trusted project partners.


Alexander Donovan is a senior project manager with The Architectural Team, Inc. (TAT), an award-winning architecture, interiors, and planning firm based in Chelsea, Massachusetts. With more than two decades of experience in design and construction for multifamily, mixed-use commercial, and hospitality buildings, Donovan is regarded as an expert source on advanced facade solutions.

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