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Suffolk Construction

Two hundred and thirty eight years ago, a group of Patriots dumped 342 tea crates into Boston Harbor to protest Great Britain’s tea tax on the American Colonies. Today, using state-of-the-art virtual models and collaboration tools, Suffolk Construction is building the structure that will pay tribute to this seismic event in American History and house one of the original tea crates that was dumped in the Harbor on that fateful day.

The $27 million, 18,700 square-foot Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum project will be approximately twice its original size and will consist of a two-story, bridge house pier structure supported by piles and a 350-ton, 200-foot floating barge. The pier building will contain a retail store, two re-enactment meeting rooms, and offices. Three historic replica ships will surround the floating barge, which will house a museum on the first floor and a Tavern/Tea Room on the second level.

The Future Meets The Past

State-of-the-art Building Information Models (BIM) were used to coordinate the installation of extensive mechanical systems throughout the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum project. For example, the virtual models helped the team realize that the structural constraints of the tight attic spaces would not enable all the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components to properly fit. The end result was the seamless coordination of a complex installation process in both the pier building and barge structure.

Before-and-after virtual models of the tight attic space in the barge structure.


Left : Virtual model showed that original configuration of mechanicals would not fit in attic space (red circles indicate the mechanical conflicts).
Right: Virtual model allowed team to make adjustments and design a new configuration of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

Did You Know:

  • Construction will require over 50,000 man hours.
  • 350-ton, 200-foot barge was built off site in historic Quincy shipyard.
  • Tide levels dictate when barge will be pulled into Boston Harbor’s Fort Point Channel.
  • 47 steel piles (each over 100 feet) will support the pier building.
  • Electrical, plumbing, and heating utilities will be suspended from permanent gangways
    (connecting the barge structure to the pier building).
  • Extensive coordination of material deliveries on a high-traffic bridge over water.
  • Prefabricated wood frame structure with synthetic slate roofing in keeping with period details.
  • More than fifty percent of construction will take place off barges on the water.

Milestone Dates

Groundbreaking: April 19, 2011
Launching of Barge: November 11, 2011
Raising of Cupola: December 16, 2011 (in honor of the anniversary of the Destruction of the Tea)
Grand Opening: June 25, 2012

Project Team

Owner: Historic Tours of America
Development Manager: Boston Properties
Architect: Margulies Perruzzi Architects
Construction Manager: Suffolk Construction


suffolk tea party model
3D virtual model of Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Media contact
Leah Pennino
Suffolk Construction


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