Graciano Corporation Builds On Its Leadership Role In Restoring New York Landmarks With New Projects

10/01/2003, New York City, New York

Graciano Corporation continues to play an expanding role in restoring and preserving some of New York City’s most beloved landmarks. The company recently won three new restoration contracts in the New York metro area, and has completed two other large-scale assignments. Newly awarded projects include The Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Waldorf-Astoria, and the Ward’s Island Wastewater Treatment Buildings.

The Cloisters

Built by the Rockefeller family in the 1930s, The Cloisters houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval art and architecture collection. Located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, the structure incorporates architectural elements from five medieval French cloisters, as well as stone and other building materials indigenous to the Manhattan area. The facility features extensive gardens and contains artifacts dating from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries.

Due to its landmark status, renovation of the Cloisters requires strict adherence to National Trust For Historical Preservation guidelines. Graciano’s work on The Cloisters includes replication and replacement of numerous Mission-style tiles, cleaning and repointing of the building’s granite facades, and probing of the structure’s stonework to identify hidden structural problems. Graciano is also responsible for resetting sections of the building’s bluestone and granite roof surfaces, and will oversee the removal and reconstruction of a 70-year-old elevated stone walkway in the Fuentidueña Chapel area. Work at the Cloisters commenced the first week of September 2003.

Waldorf=Astoria

Recently designated a landmark by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Trust Historic Hotels of America division, the Waldorf=Astoria continues to build on its enduring reputation as Manhattan’s first “grand hotel.” Owned by Hilton Hotels Corporation, the building is an elegant example of Art Deco style architecture and is located in a prime midtown location. Waldorf=Astoria management oversaw a comprehensive interior renovation in 1999 and has now focused on exterior restorations.

Graciano’s restoration work on the 42-story landmark will include rebuilding sections of the structure’s parapets and replacement of stone features, such as lintels, sills and decorative carvings. Brickwork at the corners of the building will be replaced with custom-matched bricks and stone features will be restored with materials selected to integrate seamlessly with the colors, textures and appearances of the building’s original architectural details. Work on the Waldorf=Astoria project commenced in August of 2003.

Ward’s Island Wastewater Treatment Facilities

Comprised of two federalist-style WPA-era buildings, the Ward’s Island Wastewater Treatment Facilities have been part of the New York City skyline since their construction in the 1930s. Designed to house grit chambers – large holding tanks that allow solids and dense materials to settle out of incoming wastewater -- the structure’s facades feature ornate stone carvings, decorative brickwork, and cast aluminum metalwork that effectively hide the inner workings of the buildings from public view. These facilities serve as the first stage of wastewater treatment for Manhattan and the Bronx.

Restoration of these buildings includes brick restoration, removal, restoration and replacement of spandrel covers and other carved stone features, and removal, cataloging, repair and replacement of the structure’s ornamental aluminum trim elements. Within the building itself, the grit troughs will be patched and upgraded with concrete overlays. Work at the site began in August and will take approximately two years to complete.

Ventilation Building for Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel

The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened in 1950 after nearly a decade of construction. It is the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in North America. The facility is ventilated by equipment housed in four buildings – two located in lower Manhattan, one near the Brooklyn portal, and a one just off Governor’s Island. When operating at full capacity, these ventilation stations facilitate complete air change within the tunnel every one-and-a-half minutes.

Beginning in October, Graciano will carry out a full-scale restoration on the façade of the Governor’s Island building while allowing the facility to continue operation at full capacity. Specifically, the company will restore the building’s granite and terra-cotta features, remove an existing acrylic stucco cladding system, and waterproof the facility’s brick subsurface in preparation for the installation of a granite cladding system. Graciano will also be responsible for repairs to the building’s seawall, as well as repairs to expansion joints and other masonry features.

Other Projects

Nearing completion is Graciano’s exterior restoration work on the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Opera House, the oldest performing arts center in continuous operation in America.

The cornerstone of this grand building was laid in 1906 and construction was completed in 1909. The BAM façade features extensive decorative detail rendered in brick, terra-cotta, granite and marble. Due to it’s designation as a New York City Landmark, all restorations have been governed by strict adherence to preservationist guidelines.

Graciano’s responsibilities on the project have included masonry restoration, supervision of all specialty contractors, extensive repairs to cornices and parapets, replication of damaged brick to match existing materials, and removal, replacement and reinstallation of terra-cotta elements, flashings and supporting substructures. The project also included construction of a GFRC cornice, parapet and balustrade to replace original architectural features that had been removed from the building decades ago.

Graciano also recently completed restoration of the Jewish Museum at 5th Avenue and 92nd Street. The ten-week project included rehabilitation of intricate stone carvings, cleaning and patching of limestone, pointing and patching of exterior brickwork, replacement of the slate roof and flashing system, and repainting of the building’s windows.