Conservation Solutions, Inc: Art + Architecture + Artifacts

Exterior Restoration of NY Public Library Wins AIA Honor Award

[2-11-13] New York- CSI is very proud to have contributed to the preservation of this magnificent Beaux Arts structure by Carrere & Hastings. Working with Wiss, Janney, Elstner, CSI assessed and directed treatment of the statuary throughout the building facade.

The New York Public Library, an iconic example of the Beaux-Arts style, was perhaps the most important commission of the firm of Carrère and Hastings. In preparation for the building’s centennial in 2011, the design team was retained to investigate the exterior envelope, recommend treatments, and oversee implementation.

A tablet-based system was used to record the findings of a 100 percent hands-on survey of the building, using boom trucks, suspended scaffolds, and industrial rope access. Specified systemic repairs included cleaning (with soap and water), repointing (using hydraulic lime mortar), and applying various protective treatments. Localized repairs included mortar-based patches, crack repairs, and spot cleaning. More than 2,000 hand-carved marble dutchman repairs were executed.

The sculptures, carved from four types of marble, each had different characteristics that influenced the selection of preservation techniques. The pediment groups, composed of the same marble as the facades, showed the most deterioration and required a range of restorative treatments and repairs. Monumental bronze windows, grilles, and doors were generally sound but many alterations had been made over the years; these elements were restored to original conditions. The roofs, originally built with copper, were replaced with Monel in 1936. While the steep batten seam roofs needed only modest repairs, the low-slope roofs required complete replacement.

Restoration of a building such as the New York Public Library is an implicitly sustainable effort that preserves the aspirations, efforts, resources, and embodied energy of another era. In addition to the fundamentally sustainable nature of this project type, other aspects of the project reflect the team's concern with conservation of resources and integration of sustainability objectives.

Additional Credit

Cost Consultant: Slocum Consulting, Inc.

Environmental Consultant: GCI Environmental Advisory, Inc.

Fine Art Conservation Consultant: Conservation Solutions, Inc.

Landscape Architects: RBA Group

Lighting Consultant: Claude R. Engle

MEP Consultant: Wesler Cohen Associates


Photo Credit

© Peter Aarron/ESTO

© Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc


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