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Preserving History

New York City landmark building underwent extensive renovation and restoration

54 Bond Street Top Honors Sept18 1
Photo courtesy of CTA Architects​

New York City-based CTA Architects PC’s façade preservation and restoration project of 54 Bond Street in New York City has won it the 2018 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmark Conservancy.

Located in the NoHo Historic District, the mixed-use, cast iron building was designed in the French Second Empire style by Henry Engelbert and originally built between 1873 and 1874 as the Bond Street Savings Bank. The ornately detailed corner building was then home to the German Exchange Bank, a loft and storage space, and then the Bouwerie Lane Theatre before being converted into high-end residential condominiums with ground-floor commercial space in 2007. The building was named an individual landmark in 1967 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

The $4.5 million project of the six-story, 15,000-square-foot building had two phases: façade restoration and sidewalk reconstruction. “It was an extremely involved, painstaking process involving extensive restoration as well as the replication of over 1,000 incredibly intricate cast-iron units, including formed metal cornices and pediments,” explains Christa E. Waring, AIA, LEED AP, principal in charge at CTA Architects. “In addition to the extensive cast iron, there is sheet metal ornamentation on the façade, on elements such as the cornices. All renovation work was performed from pipe scaffolding.”

Prior to starting the renovation, Matthew Jenkins, AIA, project manager, performed an intensive and detailed, three-month-long documentation of the façade to assess and document the façade’s condition, and to determine which cast-iron units needed to be replaced. “It was amazing to see just how detailed each unit was,” he says. “The intricacy and the decorative and interlocking nature of each unit made it a challenging undertaking.”

When the units were removed, Jenkins says they found that the cast-iron braces that held them in place had deteriorated, along with the brick and masonry backup. Due to the building’s landmark status, the only modern material CTA used was concealed sheet flashing to protect the building’s interior from water penetration.

Photo courtesy of CTA Architects

The cast-iron units that needed to be replaced were numbered, shipped to the Van Cronenburg Architectural Hardware’s facility in Gent, Belgium, and reviewed in detail, allowing the fabricator to create shop drawings, molds and then replicas. To provide additional rust protection, the cast-iron pieces were also zinc-metalized and then painted with three coats of epoxy paint. Pieces in good condition were stripped of paint and rust and then recoated in a phased process. The team worked with the coating manufacturer, Tnemec Co. Inc., Kansas City, Mo., to develop a system to test the paint, ensuring it would adhere appropriately to each element.

Coordination of the project was the biggest challenge. “The cast-iron units were modeled and replicated in Belgium, while the sheet metal elements were remade locally, in Long Island City, by Gotham MetalWorks,” explains Bradley Heraux, technical manager at CTA. “There were so many different elements in different geographical locations, we really had to coordinate it all very carefully.”

Old paint was removed by using stripper tape impregnated with solvent, and windows were repainted to match the color of the renovated façade. After the façade work was completed, work began on the replication of the three original cast-iron entrance stairways leading to the ground floor, which is elevated above the street level. CTA designed new stairs to match the originals found in old photographs and remnants on-site.