Breaking Ground in Boston: A Local Look at R&D in Construction

4.1% of the United States’ gross domestic product comes from the construction industry making it a leader within the global marketplace1. With nearly $7 billion in new development approved in 2018, Boston is a leading city within the US marketplace, making it a perfect example to demonstrate research and development activity in our own backyard. 

The construction industry is no stranger to innovation; whether a company is pushing the boundaries on civil engineering, improving upon the quality of their work or incorporating the latest energy-efficient materials. That is to say, if a company is attempting to implement or build something that is new to their company and evaluating alternatives to eliminate uncertainty related to the engineering of a certain project, they are likely engaging in R&D. Let’s take a look at some of the projects in Boston and learn where the research and development lies. 

Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab

The Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab in Allston, built by Triumph Modular, is a two-story, 15,000 square foot facility and is the latest addition to Harvard’s life science ventures. The Pagliuca Lab is a great example of a modular building – which are sectional prefabricated buildings. What is unique about these buildings is that they consist of multiple units called modules. Often constructed off-site, they are transported to the intended site of use, where the modules are assembled and installed in order to generate time and cost savings. As this technique is relatively new to the construction industry, there are few established methods to follow, and a great deal of uncertainty. Technical issues and experimentation we might expect to see in a project such as the Pagliuca Lab are:

  • Site-specific conditions: modules are not conventionally embedded in the ground, so the foundation and soil-structure interaction analyses are key

  • Logistics of Transportation Methods: complications surrounding the structural integrity of the modules as a result of movements and vibrations from transportation methods might lead to evaluating multiple vehicle companies and services that can handle this specific work

  • Size/dimension Limitations: due to shipping restrictions, module story heights are limited to 12’-6” presenting a real challenge for the design of a lab building

  • Lab Design Requirements: Compliance with bio-safety lab levels 1 and 2 (BL1 and BL2) specifications

Emerson College Paramount Theater Restoration

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The Paramount Center project, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, was completed in 2009 and included the landmark restoration of Boston’s 1932-built Paramount Theater. Historic finishes were restored and many of the Art Deco architectural details and features from the original theater were repurposed and incorporated into the new complex. As building restoration can be very complicated and unique, technical issues and experimentation we might expect to see in such a project are:

  • Non-destructive evaluation and maintenance of a historic façade or structure elements while constructing other aspects of the project site

  • Providing temporary support of excavation or structural shoring as well as any long-term structural solutions that adhere to modern building codes while maintaining all the aspects of the historical landmark

  • Remediation of hazardous materials: conducting an environmental site assessment by an environmental engineer and administering material testing


Millennium Tower

Millennium Tower Boston

The 1.1M square foot residential building located in Boston’s Downtown Crossing was completed in 2016. At 685 feet, the Millennium Tower is one of Boston’s tallest residential buildings. At this height, there were some significant technical challenges and uncertainties encountered in a project of such magnitude. 

  • Foundation analysis: Using principles of geotechnical engineering to determine settlement and taking into account the nearby underground subway transportation system for optimal placement and foundation type

  • Lateral load design: a building of such height will inevitably sway due to the wind, structural engineering principles were used to design the structural frame components in order to minimize the effects of the sway and sense of discomfort for the tenants

  • LEED Silver certification: experimenting with materials and resources as well as building design for HVAC, energy and water consumption, water energy, etc

In summary, if a company is financing activities to try to develop or improve energy efficiency, mechanical systems, process design, construction techniques or other products, processes or software, then these activities likely qualify for the Massachusett’s R&D tax credit. Claiming the Massachusett’s R&D tax credit in the construction industry requires an in-depth analysis of both the tax code and the construction sector. At Leyton, our in-house engineers, coupled with our tax attorneys and accountants, can help you claim this credit. 

For more information and to see how we can help you, contact Maggie Crowley - - 617-712-6759

Contributor Bio


The construction, design and development industry is continually innovating, yet it is massively under-claiming a lucrative tax incentive – The research and development R&D Tax Credit.

Leyton, the leading R&D Tax Credit Consulting firm for this industry, maximizes the benefit available to this sector. Every year, we help thousands of clients globally to improve their business performance through R&D tax credits and government funding.

Our industry-specific team of highly experienced tax attorneys, engineers and architects provide innovative and sustainable strategies to save our clients’ time and generate a tax benefit. This is achieved by adapting to our clients’ environment and timeline, making Leyton’s service minimally disruptive and highly beneficial. We follow a clear, proven methodology built on tested know-how and in full compliance with current legislation.

Leyton has more than 9,000 clients globally, served from 25 offices worldwide, with a range of companies from start-ups to multi-national organizations.

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