The latest news on New York architecture.

  • A cast-iron structure is restored with traditional and contemporary materials and construction techniques.

    THE ARCHITECT'S NEWSPAPER

    A cast-iron structure is restored with traditional and contemporary materials and construction techniques.
     Jack Kucy
    Scott Henson Architect with Gilsanz Murray Steficek Local Law 11/98 is a New York City statute mandating that any building of more than six stories must have its facade inspected once every five years. Scott Henson of Scott Henson Architect was undertaking just such an inspection on the historic 1892 Cleverdon & Putzel–designed Banner Building in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood when he discovered something rather disturbing. The structure’s cast iron face—both its decorative elements, many of which had fallen off over the years, as well as its structural supports and bracing—was severely corroded. The condition was even worse on the top two floors, an 1898 addition that featured sheet metal decorative elements, which had deteriorated to the point that, in places, a person could press their fingers through them. Making matters even shabbier, the sandstone pilasters that framed the facade’s cast iron bands had worn down to a faded memory and the original single-paned wood windows had decayed beyond repair. The building owner and the project team, which included structural engineering firm Gilsanz Murray Steficek and historical research firm Office for Metropolitan History, agreed that the only way to proceed was to restore the facade by making every effort to adhere to its original materials and traditional means of construction.
       
    The restoration team relied on a combination of traditional and contemporary materials and construction techniques. The cast iron and sheet metal facade was removed, repaired or re-fabricated, and replaced with new structural connections.
     
    One of the chief causes of the facade’s decline, aside from time itself, was severe water leakage, which had caused the original structural imbeds connecting the cast iron and sheet metal elements to the masonry backing wall to rust to a critical state. The team removed all of the metal elements and inspected them carefully. This analysis revealed that about 80 percent of the cast iron could be reconditioned and replaced on the building. This involved stripping the elements of the ten or so layers of paint that had been applied over the years and patching the odd non-fatal crack with Belzona Supermetal epoxy. Those elements that were beyond repair, or missing, were recast by Robinson Iron in Alabama using samples of the original facade to create new molds. The sheet metal was in worse shape. Approximately half the elements, including egg and dart frieze, scroll moldings, rosettes, and medallion reliefs, needed to be re-fabricated, a job tackled by CCR Sheet Metal in Brooklyn.
    J. Scott Howell
         
    Once all of the elements had been reproduced or repaired, they were painted patina green (the owner’s preference) and returned to the site, ready for installation. The team designed new structural supports for this purpose: structural stainless-steel bolts that pass all the way through the masonry backing wall and connect to plates on either side, holding the wall in compression. The sheet metal was attached and soldered together, and the cast iron was attached and caulked, making the whole assembly watertight and ready for another 100-plus years of life. The team also hired an artisan who was able to discern the original decorative character of the sandstone pilasters and re-create them with a sandstone patching material from Cathedral Stone. Replacing the 54 windows required a similarly close historical analysis of the existing conditions. The windows included pulley double-hung varieties and single pivoting sashes with transoms. J. Padin in New Jersey re-fabricated them based on the original historical profiles and materials. Here, however, 21st-century technology was also employed to improve the building’s insulation with high-performance glazing. As a final touch, the team also replaced the 1970s storefront. With little documentation available, Henson based a new design on what remained at street level as well as on clues implied by the fenestration above. The result is something of a rarity in Manhattan: a vintage cast iron building that retains its historic character from top to toe.
    Aaron Seward
      
     
    Sources
    Sheet Metal CCR Sheet Metal Cast Iron Robinson Iron Historic Wood Windows J. Padin 973-642-0550 Sandstone Cathedral Stone
     

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  • The Cathedral Stone Newsletter

    Historic Brick Wall Scheduled for Demolition Saved by Jahn M30 The Cathedral Stone Newsletter, July 2006

    The condominium complex at 241 Eldridge Street was constructed in 1904 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Architect Scott Henson was hired by the condominium board to perform a full exterior analysis of the building. The analysis revealed a number of necessary repairs, including brick, window, and terra cotta replacement and repairs, mortar joint cutting and re pointing, as well as the replacement of the roof membrane and cornice. During removal of the parapet walls, the internal conditions of the brickwork and mortar were found to be severely deficient. The back-up masonry was loose laid in many areas with no mortar.

    The failures of this building were directly attributed to the mortar. The mortar used in the original construction of this building consisted of a high-lime content resulting in little or no binding between the mortar and the bricks. The mortar within the walls was loose and powdery. Adverse weather conditions and poor maintenance over the life of the building accelerated the deterioration of the mortar. Several structural engineers were invited to the building to inspect conditions and provide recommendations. The consensus was that the walls required complete reconstruction from the ground up. This solution was prohibitively expensive for the building owners; therefore and extensive search was undertaken for an alternative solution to repair the internal condition of the walls. After the research and testing of many masonry techniques and products, including mechanical pinning, brick repair products and soil consolidation products, Cathedral Stone Products' Jahn M30 Micro Injection Grout was found. When injected, Jahn M30 will travel into the substrate and continue until it flows freely from this port and other ports at the same level. The ports are then sealed using non-staining clay, sealant, or caulk. A series of injection ports must be drilled on the face of the substrate to create a "drill frame." Ports should be drilled in a downward direction. Cathedral Stone Products, Inc. supplied Jahn M30 Injection Grout for a test area. Cathedral Stone Products representatives, including Dan Perakes, conducted the initial testing on the building. A second and larger test was performed to confirm initial results. This test involved injecting the Jahn M30 into specific areas in the walls to determine whether or not the repair process was going to work. Jahn M30 again proved successful. Extensive testing was performed until the correct installation procedures and amounts of grout required were determined to consolidate the existing lose, powdery mortar, to fill the voids between the internal brickwork, and ultimately to provide a structurally stable building. It was originally thought that the cost to replace the exterior walls would be an estimated $1.8 million. The repairs would have to be completed section by section. Because of the success of Jahn M30 the entire project cost was $106,000 saving the owners over $1.6 million. Scott Henson Architects hired Viles Contracting Corporation to complete the repairs. From February 9th to April 22nd, 2005, they drilled 1,435 holes into the building and pumped in 1,280 gallons of the M30 Injection Grout. After 241 Eldridge Street was completed, the project was featured in the NY Times and drew interest from the engineers with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). They wanted to look at the project to see if the repair method was a viable alternative for maintaining their buildings. They met with both Cathedral Stone Representatives as well as Scott Henson. In the summer of 2005, CSP successfully completed Jahn M30 Injection test of the New York City Housing Authority. They are currently monitoring the tests and are considering using the method of restoration for future projects.         Go to Cathedral Stone Newsletter

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