Graciano Corporation Awarded Façade Restoration Work At Pittsburgh Cork Factory


Graciano Corporation, Graciano Corporation, one of the country’s leading architectural masonry restoration firms, has been awarded the contract for façade restoration at the Cork Factory buildings, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Strip District. An abandoned industrial complex that has sat in ruin more than 30 years, the Cork Factory, formerly known as the Armstrong Cork Co., is being rehabilitated by McCaffrey Interests of Chicago, and will house 297 luxury apartments when the project is complete.

Graciano is responsible for cleaning all of the two-building complex’s exterior brick masonry, stone and terra cotta surfaces. The company is also charged with removing extensive accumulations of graffiti, and will be spot-pointing masonry joints, removing and replacing damaged brick, patching or replacing stone architectural features, and repairing damaged terra cotta trim. Work commenced on the site during the week of April 2, 2005, and is targeted for a late summer completion.

“This assignment requires a great deal of coordination between a number of building trades, all of whom are currently active on the site,” remarked Don McDevitt, Graciano’s Vice President of Sales. “Within the next few weeks, we will be installing four or five swing-stage scaffold assemblies on each of the complex’s buildings, and will be staffing the job with approximately 20 craftsmen working five days a week. Currently, due to a lack of access to the upper floors of the buildings, all equipment is being crane-hoisted to the roof or carried up the scaffolding by our craftsmen.”

Constructed in 1901 and expanded in 1913, the sprawling 440,000-square-foot complex has been closed since 1974. Over the past 30 years, the structures have suffered from extensive deterioration and repeated acts of vandalism. The buildings were designed by the renowned Pittsburgh architect, Frederick Osterling, who also was the architect on for Arrott Building, the Union Trust Building, the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center and the Iroquois Building. The construction management firm for this project is Plant Construction from San Francisco. Plant selected Graciano Corporation, based on their expertise in restoration of high profile buildings and projects around the country, including Union Trust Building (Two Mellon Center).

According to Dan McIntyre, the Project Manager on the assignment and Graciano’s Vice President of Production, “We are discovering layers of dirt and graffiti as we clean the exterior surfaces. Industrial grime that accumulated on the buildings over the years has been covered by graffiti and subsequent layers of dirt. As a result, it is sometimes necessary to clean parts of the buildings two and three times before the foreign materials are successfully removed. The original craftsmanship on these buildings, however, was exceptional, and we are finding that the majority of the exterior surfaces can be effectively restored.”

Graciano is working closely with the project’s assigned historic architect, Richard Glance, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to maintain the vintage appearance of the buildings. “Mr. Glance has advised us not to over-clean the brickwork and make it look new,” commented McDevitt. “Instead, we are to leave a patina that is appropriate for a building of this age. We are also reviewing mortar samples on a number of test areas located throughout the complex to arrive at a formulation that delivers the correct color and texture for the structures. When it’s complete, our work will blend in seamlessly.”

“We are pleased to be involved in this high-profile project that will have a dramatic impact on the Strip District, contributed Glenn Foglio, President of Graciano Corp. We are certain that this project will be a key contribution to the city.”

With offices in Pittsburgh and New York, Graciano Corporation, is known and respected nationwide for its expertise in historic restoration and preservation. Some of the company’s other recent projects have included the Pittsburgh’s Union Trust Building, as well as the Queensboro Bridge, Rockefeller Center, Shea Stadium and MetLife Tower – all located in New York City. The company has won numerous awards from the International Masonry Institute, New York Construction News, the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) and others.