AWARD WINNING RESTORATION
Swanke Hayden Connell Architects
JLG Architectural Products, LLC
Window Design Consultation
Bill Wilder, Graham Architectural Products, Director of Technical Sales
Restore luster and architectural integrity to two of New York City’s original “skyscrapers” through the historical replication of original windows.
Hybrid Series 2500 and 7500
Two of New York’s pioneering “skyscrapers”, now attached and combined as one internally, posed unique challenges. In one of the buildings, the architects had none of the original windows to work with. Nor were there any good photos of those original windows. And on one of the floors in that particular building, the windows had to meet hurricane impact standards. Finally, all of the windows in the entire project had to be approved by the New York City Landmark Preservation Conservancy.
“With Graham, it’s almost as if I have an office inside of the factory. I can come in and go over design issues with the Graham design team on short notice. Key people are assigned to us and are accessible throughout the design phase: I don’t have to go through 10 layers of bureaucracy. To me, that’s key.”
Jeff Good, Owner, JLG Architectural Products, LLC
LONG ROAD TO GLORY
For four decades, The New York Landmarks Conservancy has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve, restore, and reuse New York City’s wonderful architectural legacy. And each year, the Conservancy recognizes the City’s most outstanding efforts with the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards.
The Moses Awards – called the “Preservation Oscars” – are named for the dedicated New Yorker whose generosity benefited the City for over 50 years.
More than 500 people packed Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal to recognize the 2013 Moses Award winners from across the City. Among the honored projects was the Home Life Insurance Company Building, a project that featured Graham Architectural Products (GAP) in a starring role.
The Home Life Insurance Building actually consists of two structures, both completed in August of 1894.
The original Home Life Insurance building, located at 253 Broadway, now houses the Mayor’s staff on its eighth floor, as well as numerous other city departments. At 16 stories, it was, in its day, among the world’s tallest buildings.
Standing beside it on the corner just south is the former Postal Telegraph Company building. At 12 stories, this 256 Broadway structure was also tall for its time.
Home Life Insurance purchased this building in 1947 and connected the structures internally.
Restoring the different buildings provided separate and distinct challenges, but they shared a need for approval from the Landmarks Preservation Conservancy (LPC). And of the two, 253’s road to approval was more challenging.
The original windows had been replaced decades ago. Grainy old photographs appeared to show large double-hung windows with an oriel sash.
The assignment was to replicate that look with a different operation. Oh, and make sure the 8th floor’s windows meet the code for hurricane impact resistance.
Said Bill Wilder, GAP’s director of technical sales and a leading expert on historic rehabilitation, “Since it had these great big openings, we couldn't do the project with any type of double-hung window and meet both the code and their window cleaning requirements –no one could have – which they understood. So they wanted to try to do it with a tilt and turn window, which is like an in-swing casement type window, but that created challenges on a 7-foot wide opening.”
First, a seven-foot-wide by nine-foot-tall window can weigh as much as 400 pounds. And when that window is being asked to swing like a door and also tilt, all that weight can only be supported on a single corner. Second, even if the hardware capable of safely supporting such weight could be located, there was the practical issue of a seven foot window swinging into a room, necessitating the moving of everything in its way every time the window is cleaned.
Jeff Good, president of JLG Architectural Products, LLC, a leading contractor for custom architectural window projects, went back to his shop and came up with a working concept. Basically, they took a window that the company has successfully deployed in a number of New York City Schools, and modified it by incorporating a tilt and turn dual action window. Good then took that concept to Graham and together they worked on formalizing a solution.
“With Graham, it’s almost as if I have an office inside of the factory,” he said. “I can come in and go over design issues with the Graham design team on short notice. Key people are assigned to us and are accessible throughout the design phase: I don’t have to go through 10 layers of bureaucracy. To me, that’s key.”
The Graham/JGL team proposed a Hybrid 7500 Dual Action Series with a tilt-and-turn operator in the lower sash, and the 2500 Historical Double Hung Series. The LPC eventually agreed that this innovative combination of window types would recapture the historic look they desired, while meeting stringent code requirements.
Meanwhile, 256 had challenges of its own, but they too were overcome. Finding dies in the Graham archives enabled the team to match extrusion profiles. Plus, the team found a panning shape in the Graham archives that the Landmarks Preservation Commission felt sufficiently matched the original brick molding.
Good explained, “That’s one of the advantages of working with Graham. Because they have so much experience doing custom Landmark jobs, you are often able to utilize dies or extrusions that were used before. In this particular case, for the 256 building, we went back through archives of dies and were able to find profiles that were very similar to what we required. So from a budget standpoint, we didn’t have to produce a custom extrusion, which saved money and at the same time provided an excellent finished product.”