Project Type: Evaluation, Design 

 The Vital Structure: 

University Building, Cambridge MA, Water Infiltration Evaluation and Subsequent Steps



The Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (Harvard FAS) reported that on-going water infiltration had been occurring at the concourse level foundation cove joint below the rear plaza at this building since construction, resulting in damages to interior finishes. Several other Professionals had been engaged in the past in an attempt to find the source of leaks and remedial repairs had been performed with no resolve.

Ponding of water behind waterproofing.
Excavation of rear plaza.


Vital Structures solicited a contractor to make test cuts in the exterior plaza, a ground penetrating radar subconsultant to scan the area above, and a civil contracting firm to create an as-built site survey, as no existing plans regarding utilities and drainage were available.  Vital Structures also used an ultrasonic line detector to find the exact leak location below from the exterior plaza.

Vital Structures performed two (2) days of programmatic water leak testing at the exterior rear plaza to determine test cut methodology based on small leaks being observed via water testing paper inserted into the foundation cove joint. After this water testing, Vital Structures was present on site for five (5) evaluation days to review the contractor performing excavation at the rear plaza. During this excavation, we found multiple issues (unadhered membrane, inconsistent application, voids ) with the existing below grade waterproofing that could be contributing to leaking conditions. Once this area was exposed, Vital Structures performed an additional two (2) days of programmatic water leak testing and was able to produce similar interior leaking.





Due to the widespread waterproofing deficiencies encountered during our evaluation. We suggested to Harvard FAS that a design build approach to remove and replace defective below grade waterproofing was the best way to resolve the on-going leaking issues. Due to  cost concerns, Harvard FAS opted to proceed with localized foundation drainage improvements at the areas of leaking at the concourse level. Vital Structures, along with the geotechnical engineering firm Haley & Aldrich developed design drawings to install a sump system to tie into existing drain lines and help resolve the interior leaking. 

Ponding of water behind waterproofing.

Evaluate. Guide. Revitalize.

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