5 Western Avenue - Revitalization


5 Western Avenue was constructed in 1931 and holds a prominent place within Cambridge’s historic Central Square district. The building formerly housed the City of Cambridge’s Police Headquarters. In 2011, the City hired W.T. Rich Company as its construction manager to renovate and restore the building for use as administrative office space. 


Project Information

Location: Cambridge, MA

Completion: April 2013

Contract Value: $19 million

Size: 58,000 SF

Type: Historic Renovation - Sustainable

Owner: The City of Cambridge - Cambridge, MA

Designer: Finegold Alexander Architects - Boston, MA

Delivery Method: CM-at-Risk (M.G.L. Chapter 149A)

Awards & Honors:

LEED Gold Certification

- ACG Build New England 2015, Honor Award


All historical aspects needed to remain intact requiring W.T. Rich to select highly qualified specialty subcontractors who skillfully fabricated custom period-correct finishes for the exterior façade and the newly installed windows, doors, and frames. Restored materials included granite, limestone, brick and ornamental metal grill work.

The site, located in the heart of Central Square, abutted occupied buildings and provided an extremely limited construction laydown area. Our team devised a plan to maximize the available space by coordinating "just-in-time" material and equipment deliveries, adhering to a strict sit logistics and safety plan and clearly communicated with all stakeholders in regard to the sequencing of work.

Existing concrete-encased structural beams and poured-in-place concrete slabs created interior head space challenges. These issues were resolved through the effective planning and installation of new work and utilization of BIM and 3D MEP coordination

Other challenges included the need to reinforce the building to accommodate a new mezzanine level by shoring and underpinning portions of the existing building structure, as well as the need to upgrade all life safety and building systems to ensure code and accessibility compliance.



The project involved a highly collaborative effort among W.T. Rich, the design team, and the owner through preconstruction and construction. By assuming a leadership role, W.T. Rich added value to the design process and ensured proactive and consistent communication throughout all phases. This diligence enabled our team to successfully navigate through a large number of challenges, unrealized existing conditions, and design issues to complete this project – on time and within budget – and to the full satisfaction of the client.

“I have heard from many others over the years of how good W.T Rich is to work with on a project. Now that I have spent the past year working together with them on the 5 Western Ave Project for the City of Cambridge, I have experienced that greatness; which is a combination of their experience, cooperation with the Owner and their effective management of the project and subcontractors. I look forward to working on our next project together.”  

Michael Black, Project Manager
City of Cambridge
Revitalization of 5 Western Avenue