When stonemason Joseph J. Graciano founded his company, Graciano Corp., Pittsburgh’s landmark Union Trust Building was still under construction. And New York City was just adopting the skyscraper-design standards that shape its skyline to this day.
It was 1916. Mr. Graciano was a skilled craftsman recently arrived from his native Italy. From a base in Pittsburgh, he kept busy pursuing leads for residential restoration and construction projects as far afield as Buffalo, N.Y. He could never have imagined that Graciano Corporation would eventually occupy a distinguished niche in regional construction—and attract high-profile clients from western Pennsylvania to Manhattan and nationwide.
But this year Graciano Corp. celebrates its 100th anniversary of leadership in “giving a future to the past,” as company president Glenn Foglio puts it. “What that means is we’ve succeeded by specializing in a very demanding sector of the construction industry. I think it’s safe to say no one in the U.S.A. understands the historical masonry restoration the way we do. At a time when respect for architectural heritage is at an all-time high, the demand just keeps growing.”
With its wealth of architectural treasures, New York rates a permanent Graciano divisional office. Since the 1980s, often under the watchful gaze of uncompromising conservation authorities, Graciano crews have helped restore a “Who’s Who” of landmarks. Among their many high-profile projects have been Rockefeller Center (1930s); Met Life Tower (1911); the Queensboro Bridge, (1909); the Cloisters (1938) and the Waldorf Astoria New York (1893).
In Pittsburgh, Graciano specialists have corrected the ravages of time and the elements of multitudes of signature buildings and infrastructures. In recent years, they’ve helped preserve and upgrade the Pittsburgh City-County Building (1917); the Children’s Museum, housed in the repurposed Allegheny Post Office (1897); the massive Armstrong Cork Factory (1901), now a luxury apartment building; the Fulton Building (1906), converted into the Renaissance Mariott Hotel; the Frick Building (1902); the Lawyers Building (1928); the Pittsburgh Sewer System (1867-1912); and, of course, the Union Trust Building, completed in 1917.
In New York City, work in progress includes the ongoing Waldorf Astoria project, the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building (1969), and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (1892) in New York.
Work in progress in Pittsburgh this year includes: Graciano is restoring the cornices on the top of the building of Penn Avenue Place (former Joseph Hornes building — 1892), cleaning the granite façade on the City-County Building, rebuilding a wall at CMU and concrete repairs to the Pittsburgh city pools.
In the past two decades, the company has amassed 22 nationally significant awards, among them The New York Landmarks Conservancy Lucy G. Moses Award for restoration work at the Met Life Tower and The Cloisters.
While maintaining general headquarters in O’Hara Twp., Graciano Corp. has established regional offices in New York and New Jersey. Mr. Foglio said. The Graciano approach emphasizes close attention to detail, which in turn requires substantial teams of specialists in the office and in the field.
“All of this architecture, all of these buildings, are irreplaceable,” said Mr. Foglio. “If you look back to the days when these cultural icons were going up, you realize that, down through those decades when our company was growing, it was maturing into a center of expertise. We’re honored to be able to preserve time-honored skills, and integrate them, year by year, with the technologies and the business needs of tomorrow.”