Concrete Construction – March 2011
The 100-year-old Royal Mills—once home to the world’s busiest hydropowered cotton mill and the signature supplier to the clothing company Fruit of the Loom—had weathered years of harsh wet weather, industrial use, and neglect. Located on the banks of Pawtuxet River, the Providence, Rhode Island-based structure needed serious renovation and repair before it could be transformed into loft-style apartments.
Developer Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Baltimore, sought to convert the building into one- and two-bedroom apartments, public and retail space, and a revived riverfront with public walking paths. In order to achieve this goal, Struever turned to New England Dry Concrete, a Danbury, Conn.-based local distributor of Kryton waterproofing supplies, to analyze the construction project and recommend a comprehensive plan. After an extensive study, the company found 15% of the suites had water damage in the foundation, windows, and walls. Interior and exterior mortar work, floor slab replacement, and exterior waterproofing was needed to restore the building.
Kryton’s integral crystalline waterproofing system was chosen not only for being a comprehensive system, but a sustainable choice because it could extend the structure’s service life and lacked volatile organic compounds, tar, or petroleum-based materials.
An internal membrane was used in the reconstruction of the floor slabs and elevator pits, as well as the mortar repairing the stone veneer. The product’s chemical composition reacts with concrete and water to create microscopic crystals, which grow and fill any cracks or pores in the concrete. Later, if additional water penetrates the structure, the crystals are reactivated and block the water flow.
To address 1000 linear feet of extensive cracks, a crack repair system was chosen to provide physical and chemical waterproofing barriers. Next, 1500 windowsills and lintels were waterproofed using both a waterproofing grout and rapid-setting hydraulic cement. A cementitious brush-applied treatment treated the interior walls located below river level to resist up to 460 feet of head pressure, as well as water exposure, salts, and other contaminants. Finally, 250,000 square feet of the original stone exterior was sealed with a polymer, state-of-the-art water repellant sealer that maintained the original structural appearance.
The six-month project was completed ahead of schedule and on budget in mid-2009. Royal Mills now is listed on the U.S. National Historic Register. What once was abandoned and neglected has been transformed into a functional building to be enjoyed for many years to come.