Bond … 54 Bond Street: NYC Building Restoration Wins Prestigious Award
“The $4.5 million project was phased, with the first phase being the facade restoration, and the second, final phase being the reconstruction of the sidewalk, which is currently being completed,” says Christa E. Waring, AIA, LEED AP, CTA Architects’ Principal in Charge. “It was a 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. In addition to the extensive cast iron, there is sheet metal ornamentation on the facade, on elements such as the cornices. All renovation work was performed from pipe scaffolding.”
Owner’s Representative : D+DS Architecture Office
Architect : CTA Architects P.C.
General Contractor : Traditional Waterproofing and Restoration
Cast-Iron Fabricator : Van Cronenburg Architectural Hardware
Structural Engineer : GACE Consulting Engineers
Building Manager: Andrews Building Corporation
The Building’s History
The highly ornate, six-story, 15,000-square-foot 54 Bond Street building in the Bowery section of the NoHo Historic District was designed by Henry Engelbert and constructed between 1873 and 1874—at a time when the Bowery was a residential and cultural center. Columns surround the windows, and a stately cornice was specified for above the sixth floor. A shallow pediment is on the Bond Street side of the building, while Englebert placed a cornice around the building between each floor, to unify both sides of the facade.
The structure served as the Bond Street Savings Bank for five years. As the Bowery declined, the structure became home to the German Exchange Bank, then a loft and storage space, and, after that, the Bouwerie Lane Theater in 1963. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated the building an individual landmark in 1967, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
In the mid-2000s, the Bowery began to improve. In 2007, 54 Bond was purchased and converted into a condominium property with three large high-end residential lofts and two commercial spaces on the first two floors. A few years later, in mid-August 2011, the owner, 54 Bond Street Condominium, contracted CTA to repair the facade, as it had become somewhat dilapidated. Cast-iron units along the facade were heavily rusted and/or deteriorated, for example, and there were a number of points of local leakage. CTA, which has experience with both historic restorations and residential buildings, restored the facade to its original condition, addressed the leakage, and restored the brick masonry parapets on the structure’s northwest side.
CTA designed the facade repair, bid out the project, and performed construction administration services, developing the budget and trade packages. Before any renovation work was undertaken, however, CTA’s project manager, Matthew Jenkins, AIA, performed a detailed three-month-long documentation of the facade to 1) assess and document the facade’s condition, and 2) ascertain which cast-iron units would need to be replaced.
“It was amazing to see just how detailed each unit was,” notes Jenkins. “The intricacy and the decorative and interlocking nature of each unit made it a challenging undertaking.” He also uncovered some hidden conditions. “When the units were removed, we found that the cast-iron braces that held them in place had deteriorated, along with the brick-and-masonry backup.”
Full Scope of Work
Most cast-iron buildings are narrow, so their facades are limited. However, 54 Bond is unusual in that it’s on a corner, so the amount of cast iron is much more extensive than on most cast-iron buildings—the Bond Street side alone is more than 100 feet long.
Due to the facade’s beauty and uniqueness—as well as its landmarked status—CTA was careful to avoid using alternate materials that differed from those originally used. The only modern material the team used was concealed sheet flashing to protect the building’s interior from water penetration.
All of the cast-iron units to be replaced were numbered, shipped to the fabricator’s facility in Gent, Belgium, and reviewed in detail, allowing the fabricator to create shop drawings, molds and then create the replicas. The cast-iron pieces were also zinc-metalized to provide additional rust protection and then painted with three coats of epoxy paint. Pieces that were in good condition, however, were stripped of paint and rust, and then recoated in a phased process.
Due to the architectural significance of the building, the team worked with the coating manufacturer, Tnemec Company Inc., to develop a system for testing the paint to make sure it adhered appropriately to each element.
CTA’s Bradley Heraux, technical manager on the project, notes that the team’s biggest challenge was coordination. “The cast-iron units were molded and replicated in Belgium, while the sheet-metal elements were remade locally, in Long Island City, by Gotham Sheet Metal. There were so many different elements in different geographical locations, we really had to coordinate it all very carefully,” he says. In fact, the Belgians traveled to Manhattan for an extensive site review and to create additional documentation of the facade elements.
To make restoration easier and avoid dust, the contractors removed old paint using a stripper tape impregnated with solvent, rather than by sandblasting. Further, as the windows were somewhat recently replaced, the facade renovation team simply repainted them to match the color of the renovated facade.
After the facade work was completed, the second phase began with the replication of the three original cast-iron entrance stairways leading to the ground floor, which is elevated above the street level. One entrance goes to the building’s residential portion, while the other two belong to the retail portion.
At some point in the building’s history, the stairways had been replaced. CTA designed new stairs to match the originals the team found in old photographs and from remnants onsite. In addition, CTA added new perimeter areaway fencing, ensuring it was visually attractive and meeting current codes. The final steps are to replace the sidewalk and renovate an underground vault as well as restore the historic areaway. The team currently is waterproofing and protecting the underground vault.
All processes, materials and equipment had to be approved by LPC, even the security cameras installed on the building. CTA specified cameras that were installed using a low profile, so as not to detract from the aesthetics.