Virks in the Works


Photo credit: NEMD Architects

Molly Titus is set to make all that is old new again, at a site in Cranston. DiPrete Engineering has teamed up with NEMD Architects to renovate the Virks building — keeping some architectural elements that give the structure its unique character.

Molly is overseeing renovations at the Pastore Center where 50,000 square feet of a former institutional hospital is being transformed into offices for the RI Department of Health & Human Services. The brick building has four stories and served as a hospital for 78 years. The 1936 structure will need exterior restoration and site upgrades, as well as all new systems – which is where the challenges lay.

“From a civil perspective, existing utility networks on site are not well documented, which is common for state campuses of this age,” said Molly who is managing the project’s civil engineering. “There are just no good records.  We are having contractors use ground-penetrating radar to map out where everything is.”

There are also decorative stone elements, wrought-iron railings and a cast-stone Corinthian portico with a monumental semicircular stone stairway, among other historic features to be restored.  As of early this month, building permits were pending — the project was in the construction documentation phase, and waiting to go out to bid.

Construction could take a little over a year once the bid is awarded. DiPrete Engineering is providing the surveying, site engineering and construction documentation.

“We’re giving it a new life,” she added.