Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower in Brooklyn. Courtesy Kevin McDevitt Photography (left) and Wikipedia (right).
With its golden dome and iconic clocks, the 1929 Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower is the premier landmark of the Brooklyn skyline. The conversion of the building from offices to residential condominiums included an extensive restoration of the façade, spearheaded by Thornton Tomasetti.
One of the challenges was accessing the façades to conduct a close-range inspection for the initial condition assessment. This was resolved by teaming with Vertical Access who provided industrial rope access. Subsequently, Thornton Tomasetti developed construction documents for the masonry restoration and roofing, assisted with bidding, and provided construction-phase services with an intensive presence on site and on the rigs.
The exterior walls of this steel-framed 42-story, 512-foot structure are heavy multi-wythe masonry. Broad façades of buff-colored brick and oversized double-hung windows are relieved by crenelated parapets and arcades of terra cotta at the various setback levels. The base of the building is faced in smooth, pale limestone detailed with Neo-Romanesque columns and figurative bas-relief stone carving, and the monumental arched windows of the grand interior banking hall address the street through ornamental bronze screens.
Extensive parapet and corner rebuilding was driven by the need to clean, reinforce, and protect corroded structural elements. A mixture of two different bricks was selected to mimic the subtle tones of the original. Terra cotta elements were carefully salvaged for reinstallation wherever possible, and reproduced in cast stone where they were too badly deteriorated. All work has been approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
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