2002 Best Rehabilitation Project in NYC, New York Construction News — MetLife Building

5/01/2000

The restoration of the MetLife Building in New York has won the 2002 Rehabilitation Project of the Year in the New York Construction News Best of 2002 Awards Program. The award recognizes the contributions of key development team members and innovative solutions to a project’s challenges. Graciano Corporation, Structure Tone, and others involved will be honored at a presentation dinner in December.

The Project

The MetLife Building is registered as both a New York City landmark and a National Historic Landmark. This meant the restoration project required strict compliance with local, state and federal guidelines for historic preservation.

The trade publication will feature the project in its December issue. This marks the second year in a row that one of Graciano’s project has won the award. Last year, restoration of the Queensboro Bridge, on which Graciano performed masonry restoration and repair, won the award.

The building’s stone clock tower was designed by Napoleon LeBrun and Sons and built between 1906 and 1909. The tower was closely modeled on the Campanile at the Piazza San Marco in Venice and features a 24-foot-diameter face with a glass mosaic tile background on each of its four sides.

As masonry contractor for the full-scale restoration of the MetLife Building, Graciano Corporation cleaned, pointed, replaced, patched and stabilized both limestone and marble; replaced lintels; cleaned and reset mosaic tile in the clock faces; and restored the copper arms of hour and minute hands. This massive undertaking required the work of over forty of Graciano’s skilled craftsmen.

Overcoming the Challenges

The building was originally constructed of New York State Tuckahoe marble, which is no longer readily available. During major modernization and repair efforts in the 1960s, some marble was replaced with Alabama limestone in the corners and where cornices were removed. That mix of materials presented a challenge: many different colors of stone and mortar had to be matched.

Further complicating the project was the fact that all work had to be carefully planned not to interfere with daily work at the bustling headquarters of Met Life.

Erecting 50 stories of scaffolding is no easy task either. To prevent damage to the building, some stone had to be removed so that the scaffolding and the hoist could be secured to the inner framework of the building. To this end, the New York-based Structure Tone and Graciano together reviewed several different scaffolding methodologies and work scenarios to determine the most efficient and effective solution.

“There were no cookie cutter solutions here,” said John Eschemôller of Structure Tone. “Graciano brought a lot to the table as a member of the team.”

“This kind of teamwork was essential to the success of the entire project,” notes Tom Corbo, vice president and general manager of Graciano’s New York Division. “There were over 7,000 conditions to be addressed, with an extensive program of repairs and inspections to be made. This was updated weekly throughout the two-year project.”

Other Awards

Among Graciano Corporation’s other awards are:

  • The 2000 BAC Craft Award for Best Restoration Project, for the Queensboro Bridge, presented by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
  • A Golden Trowel Award from the International Masonry Institute in 1999 for its work on Miller Hall at Waynesburg College
  • Special Recognition in the 2001 Golden Trowel Awards for restoration of the Staple Bend Tunnel near Johnstown, which was the first railroad tunnel, and the third tunnel of any kind, in the United States.

Graciano Corporation, founded in 1916, is one of the oldest family-owned masonry restoration companies in the country. Graciano is known and respected nationwide for its expertise in historic restoration.