Pittsburgh Projects Update

5/01/2000, Pittsburgh

Graciano Corporation, specialists in structural and historic restoration, beautification and repair, currently have three major projects underway here in Pittsburgh to help preserve our heritage for future generations.

Graciano craftspeople are now making repairs to the upper terra-cotta mansard roofs of the Mellon Union Trust Building; working to restore the Fulton Building (soon to become a hotel) to its original 1900s style; and restoring masonry at the Children’s Museum.

The Chicago-based architectural firm of Raths, Raths and Johnson, specialists in terra-cotta, are overseeing the Mellon Union Trust Building project. Terra cotta, or “molded earth,” is made from clay and therefore subject to freezing and thawing. As a result, many of the tiles have become brittle and fragmented on the building’s mansard roofs. As rain and snow seeped under the tiles, water damage ensued. To correct these problems, Graciano, working under a contract with building occupant Mellon Bank, is making structural repairs to the roofs, waterproofing to prevent further water damage, and replacing terra-cotta tiles as needed.

Another project in Downtown Pittsburgh that Graciano is involved in is the restoration of the Fulton Building. In light of the new baseball stadium to open directly across the river from the Fulton Building, developers Sage Hospitality Resources from Denver recognized a golden opportunity in the building. They hired J.G. Johnson Architects, T.C., also of Denver, Hensel Phelps Construction Company of Chantilly, Virginia, and Graciano Corporation of Pittsburgh, to transform the building into a Renaissance Marriott Hotel and restore the historic landmark to its original 1900s style and grandeur. It is hoped that the project will be completed in time for the season opener.

The hotel will have about 350 rooms, some with a view of the stadium. Guests coming to see a baseball game, it is expected, will also take advantage of the entertainment available there in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

In contrast to the staggering heights of Union Trust roofs, the ground-level or bottom 50 feet is the focus of work Graciano is doing on the Fulton Building. Graciano is renovating both the interior and exterior, from cleaning and pointing brick to restoring marble in what will be the hotel’s grand lobby (now the nightclub Heaven). All work must be done according to the Secretary of the Interior’s stringent Standards for Restoration.

Across the river, Graciano is involved in a labor of love at the Children’s Museum, the former grand old post office on the North Side. Working at cost, the company intends to give the owners the best their money can bring and revive the aesthetic effect the building had when first constructed. Work includes repairing masonry joints and chemically cleaning the shell over the masonry. Some stains, signs of Pittsburgh’s smoky past, are deeply imbedded in the masonry and will never come out. But, after all, this too is part of the city’s heritage.

For all three of these projects Graciano is using only Local 9 Union members, including pointers, cleaners, caulkers, bricklayers and stonemasons. The company, founded in 1916, is one of the oldest family-owned masonry restoration companies in the country. Headquartered here in Pittsburgh, Graciano has offices is New York and Ohio as well.

Graciano Corporation is known and respected nationwide for its expertise in historic preservation. Some of the company’s projects have included the Queensboro Bridge, Rockefeller Center, Shea Stadium, Almas Temple and Mt. Sinai Hospital. Last year the International Masonry Institute awarded Graciano Corporation first prize in Western Pennsylvania for its work on Miller Hall at Waynesburg College.

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