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July 10, 2024

Saving The Rock: Framingham firm tasked with preserving Alactraz prison

Alcatraz island Photo | Courtesy of National Park Service Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay

A MetroWest construction management firm has been tasked with preserving one of the world’s most infamous former prisons.

Perini Management Services, a Framingham subsidiary of Los Angeles-based Tutor Perini Corp., has been awarded a contract from the National Park Service valued at approximately $48.6 million to stabilize and rehabilitate the Main Prison Building on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. 

Perini will be tasked with addressing deterioration and structural deficiencies at the Main Prison Building, including work on its interior and exterior, according to a press release issued by the company on Tuesday. 

This work will include abatement of hazardous materials, concrete repairs, and repair and stabilization of exterior and interior walls. In addition to stabilizing the facility, Perini expects the work to make the former prison more resilient to earthquakes and weather-related damage. 

The island’s exposure to the harsh conditions of San Francisco Bay has caused widespread deterioration across the facilities located on the island, with the impact of climate change further threatening the historic landmark, according to the New York Times. With the future of some structures on the island in doubt, researchers have been using 3D mapping technology to document the site’s history. 

Alcatraz Island was converted from a U.S. military fort to a federal penitentiary in the 1930s, holding more than 1,500 convicts from 1934 until the prison’s closure in 1963, according to the National Park Service. 

Famous inmates who served time at Alcatraz include Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, Nazi spy Erich Gimpel, and Prohibition-era mobsters Al Calpone and George Kelly Barnes, better known as Machine Gun Kelly.

Since the prison’s closure, the Island has become a popular tourist destination, attracting approximately 1.4 million annual visitors. Often referred to as The Rock, the site has been a frequent setting for Hollywood films since the prison’s closure, making appearances in movies like 1979’s “Escape from Alcatraz,” 1995’s “Batman Forever,” and 1996’s “The Rock.”

Perini expects to begin working on the project this month, with completion expected sometime in 2027. 

The Perini Corp. was founded in 1894 by Bonfiglio Perini, an Italian immigrant who resided in Framingham, according to the Framingham History Center. Perini Corp. merged with Tutor-Saliba Corp. of California in 2008; the parent company’s corporate headquarters was moved to Los Angeles in 2009.

The company now has more than 20 wholly-owned subsidiaries around the world, according to its website. Tutor Perini has been involved in a number of high-profile projects, including the expansion of Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut in 2002 and the 2016 construction of the 10 Hudson Yards tower in New York City. The firm was awarded $66.9 million in contracts to build and secure U.S. Army and Homeland Security buildings in 2021

Eric Casey is a staff writer at Worcester Business Journal, who primarily covers the manufacturing and real estate industries. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version incorrectly stated that Perini Corp. merged with Tutor-Saliba Corporation of California in 1997 and moved its headquarters to Los Angeles in 2001. In fact, Perini Corp. merged with Tutor-Saliba Corp. in 2008 and moved its headquarters to Los Angeles in 2009.  

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