Living Under a Highway: The Big Dig House

Living Under a Highway: The Big Dig House


The big dig has effected all of us in the Boston area in one way or another. Breaking ground in 1991 and becoming the largest public works project in United States history, the Big Dig is only now feeling more or less finished. The Big Dig House, designed by Single speed Design, was the brainchild of engineer Paul Pedini who worked on the Big Dig for 11 years. Pedini came up with the idea to construct his home from the Dig's salvaged highway panels and bridge piers, ending up with 660,000 pounds of recycled material in the final design...




With the help of SsD, Pedini's house acts as a prototype for reusing left over construction materials otherwise destined for the landfill. While the materials were free, the transportation and erection of the structure was anything but ordinary. Much of the cost benefit was used for elements like hiring a 168-ton crane to place each precast highway slab. The roof itself weighs 69,000 pounds but gave the designers the ability to build a roof garden that could support large stones and trees that could otherwise never be supported by a home.


The 4,300 SF home cost about $150 per square foot which is very reasonable considering its structural integrity. We feel the architects did a wonderful job blending heavy industrial pieces with finer materials to create a home that feels warm and inviting. Its one of the finest example of responsible, adaptive reuse that we can think of that has resulted in something that still feels new and modern.

A great overview of the Big Dig's original problem, solution and challenges here. A short film on the Big Dig House here.

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