Boston, MA

Emerson College, Little Building


Completed in 1917, the Little Building is a twelve-story structure at 80 Boylston Street, facing historic Boston Common. The building housed a variety of businesses over the years, until Emerson College bought it in 1995. The existing cast stone above the second floor was deteriorated beyond repair and needed to be replaced. The college undertook a project to replicate the street-facing facades and coupled that with a major renovation and modernization, extending the useful life of the residence hall for many years. SGH consulted on the facade replacement and renovation.

The project team chose ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) for its ability to take on any form, such as replicating the intricate carvings at the Little Building, and to fit within the existing wall thickness with added insulation. Highlights of our work include the following:

  • Comparing the advantages and disadvantages of using UHPC as a barrier wall or a rainscreen
  • Helping design the new wall assembly to create a watertight barrier and accommodate new insulation, improving the building’s energy efficiency
  • Developing details to integrate the UHPC with surrounding systems, such as windows, roofing, existing cladding remaining on the first story, new curtain walls, and new prefabricated brick- and metal- clad panels on the non-street-facing elevations
  • Consulting on the new curtain wall installed in the setbacks along the Tremont Street elevation, allowing the college to capture more floor space for common areas and still representing the original appearance

With the Little Building housing more than 700 students during the school year, it was important to limit the building’s downtime. Using prefabricated panels minimized the field construction time, allowing the Little Building to open to students on time for the 2019 fall semester.

Project Summary



Completion Date


Construction Value


Project Size


Repair & Rehabilitation | Preservation
Building Enclosures
Elkus Manfredi Architects
Specialized Capabilities
Preservation | Facades & Glazing

Key team members

Michael Louis
Michael Louis
Senior Principal