Boston, MA

ICA Watershed


With the ICA Watershed, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) transforms an abandoned factory into a seasonal exhibit space and a new artistic outpost in East Boston. During the summer, visitors can ride the water shuttle from the original ICA museum in Boston’s Seaport to the Watershed where they will experience exciting installations, learn about the historic shipyard, and enjoy views of the harbor. SGH provided structural and building enclosure services for the adaptive reuse project and has provided structural engineering services for many of the ICA Watershed installations over the years.

As the structural engineer of record, SGH evaluated the previously condemned structure during the initial feasibility study and then designed structural modifications as part of the redevelopment. Our assessment of the one-story, 1940s building included:

  • Documenting existing conditions and using nondestructive testing to collect information about the concrete column construction
  • Analyzing the adequacy of components, such as built-up riveted steel columns and pivot cranes retained in the new configuration
  • Evaluating existing steel and concrete structures shared with the neighboring shipyard

We designed new structural and building enclosure components, including:

  • New steel trusses and framing to replace the deteriorated roof
  • Exterior wall framing to support new entrances and additional tension bracing to increase the structure’s lateral-load-carrying capacity
  • Reinforced concrete grade beam foundations supported on existing timber piles to avoid installing new pile foundations and a new slab-on-grade
  • Temporary shoring to support the structure during demolition and construction, including bracing for steel columns supporting a 25-ton bridge crane in the adjacent building
  • New roofing and details to integrate new and existing building enclosure assemblies

SGH also evaluated the site’s flood risk and developed concepts for protecting the Watershed from coastal flooding.

Project Summary



Completion Date


New Construction
Building Enclosures | Structures | Applied Science & Research | Performance & Code Consulting
Culture & Entertainment
Anmahian Winton Architects | Stack + Co.
Specialized Capabilities
Repair & Strengthening | Roofing & Waterproofing | Risk & Resilience | Materials Science

Key team members

Casey Williams
Casey Williams
Associate Principal
Paul Kassabian
Paul Kassabian