Monogram Building

Western Specialty Contractors – St. Louis Masonry Restoration Branch recently completed a $1.2 million facade restoration of the historic Monogram Building at 1706 Washington Ave. in Downtown St. Louis.

Developer Michael Knight, a partner at Revive Capital Development of Kansas City, MO, converted the nine-story brick and terra cotta building, renamed Monogram on Washington, into 168 modern, luxury apartments (112 one-bedroom, 32 two-bedroom and 24 studio), complete with a roof-top pool. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, originally opened in 1910 as a millinery factory and warehouse in the city's former garment district.

Western Specialty Contractors first contracted with St. Louis-based general contractor Paric Corporation in November 2016 to begin work on the building's west elevation while abatement work was getting started. This first phase included installation of 28 new window openings with new lintels and precast sills, 30% brick tuck pointing, pressure washing the entire facade and caulking all window perimeters. Western crews also cut an opening in the south elevation for a buck hoist to be installed. This first phase was completed in September 2017.

A second contract was issued to Western for additional facade restoration work to the north, south and east elevations. Western used two suspended scaffolding and four masons to complete the work in October 2017. The work included:

  • South elevation – tuck pointing 30% of brick joints and 25% of terra cotta joints, caulking all window perimeters and pressure washing
  • North and east elevations – tuck pointing 25% of terra cotta joints and all brick joints, pressure washing, and replacing 10 pieces of missing or damaged terra cotta with Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) replicas

Paric, under the direction of the owner, had Western provide a 135-foot aerial lift so that the jobsite foreman, with assistance from the engineer, could inspect all elevations. Subsequently, Western's scope of work increased to include tuck pointing all brick and terra cotta joints on the south, north and east elevations; plus replacing an additional 15 pieces of terra cotta with FRP.

With the scope of work more than doubling for Western's crews, the change proved to be a challenge to the overall schedule for the building's new roof and pool installation. Western was able to meet the original schedule by adding two swing stages and six more masons working 10-hour shifts, seven days a week. The final facade restoration work was completed in February 2018.


Clayton Police Headquarters/Municipal Facility

Western Specialty Contractors – St. Louis, MO branches (formerly named Western Waterproofing Company), are earning praise for their role in the LEED Platinum restoration of the Clayton Police Headquarters and Municipal Facility in St. Louis County, Missouri. The project earned 80 out of a possible 110 points to qualify it for LEED Platinum certification through the United States Green Building Council. The project was a joint venture for Western’s St. Louis Masonry Branch and St. Louis Concrete Branch; St. Louis Masonry was contracted to restore the building’s exterior and St. Louis Concrete was contracted to restore the building’s attached, 168-space parking garage.

The Clayton Police Headquarters and Municipal Facility occupies 22,000 square feet of a historic, six-story structure in Downtown Clayton at 10 S. Brentwood Ave. The primary goal of the restoration project was to maintain the building's historic character while incorporating modern, sustainable technology and design.

Green features of the project included on-site energy generation using the largest, single-site solar array in the state of Missouri; high-efficiency HVAC, lighting and water systems; a refurbished and improved exterior envelope; and a commitment throughout the facility to indoor air quality and environmental controls for all building occupants.

The scope of work for Western's St. Louis Masonry branch (building's exterior) included:

  • Tuckpointing
  • Brick replacement
  • Caulking of settlement cracks
  • Removal of efflorescence and stains

The scope of work for Western’s St. Louis Concrete branch (attached, three-level parking garage) included:

  • Partial depth concrete slab repairs
  • Full-depth concrete slab repairs
  • Vertical concrete repairs
  • Overhead ceiling concrete repairs
  • Post-tensioning tendon repairs
  • Installation of a urethane traffic coating

Maintaining proper dust control during both projects was a major challenge for Western and extremely important to preserving the function of the solar panels, which are located on the roof of the parking garage.

“Our biggest hurdle on the project was keeping dust off the panels,” said Western St. Louis Masonry Branch Manager Jason Holtman. “We were told at the beginning of the project that dust would damage the solar panels and we were responsible for protecting them. Our solution was to use shop vacuums while cutting out the mortar. We also utilized a combination of swing stages, pipe scaffolding and aerial lifts to get the job done efficiently.”

The garage's restoration and maintenance was vital to providing a strong foundation for its rooftop deck where the solar panels are attached.

Work on the parking garage repairs began on the top-level parking deck with the identification of delaminated concrete by chain dragging. With engineer approval, Western crews began removing and repairing the damaged concrete. During the process, Western crews discovered that several post-tension tendons were broken or severely corroded. Western was authorized to shore the structure down to the slab-on-grade level before continuing with the restoration work.

Once the top-level garage repairs were made, Western went on to complete the required deck and overhead repairs as planned, just before the winter set in. Installation of the heavy duty urethane traffic coating membrane to protect the existing structure and the repaired concrete decks was applied the next spring when the weather allowed the work.

The project received its LEED Platinum certification in July, 2014.

Photo credits – The Lawrence Group and Energy Company, Brightergy, Clayton PD's solar partner


Freedom Place

Originally constructed in 1928, sat an abandoned apartment building in St. Louis with boarded-up storefronts, broken out windows and a greater purpose. Through a complete facade restoration by Western Specialty Contractors, the building was transformed back to its original glory and opened in October as apartments for special needs and homeless veterans.

“We are so proud to have worked on this gratifying project, called Freedom Place. Not only were we able to bring a historic building back to its original appearance and support a neighborhood, but we also helped create a new home for our area's homeless veterans who deserve our help and respect,” said Western Specialty Contractor Regional Manager Bill Hohmeier.

The project's developer, The Vecino Group of Springfield, MO, invested $12.7 million to renovate the five-story building at 4011 Delmar Boulevard into 20 studio apartments, 24 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. According to city officials, about 12 percent of the city's 1,300 homeless are veterans.

Western Specialty Contractor crews provided a full masonry restoration of the building which included:

  • Cleaning all of the brick, terra cotta and concrete on the exterior and applying a clear water repellant
  • Tuckpointing all of the building's exterior joints
  • Removing and replacing 3,000 unsound bricks with new or salvaged bricks
  • Rebuilding and repairing 24 damaged walls on multiple floors of the building.

Western crews also removed more than 140 existing terra cotta storefront pieces and replaced them with new Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) replicas, removed a significant amount of graffiti from the masonry exterior, and partnered with an MBE subcontractor to meet city WBE/MBE guidelines on the project.

Additional work provided by Western crews included preparing the top chimney bricks and installing a new mortar cap with a positive slope, rebuilding a CMU block wall, repairing the skim-coated wall area and applying a coating over 20 cornice units to cover spider cracks, among other work.

“The building looks remarkable; just like it did when it was constructed 86 years ago,” said Hohmeier. “The building has life again, inside and out.”

The general contractor on the Freedom Place project was HBD Construction, Inc. and the architect was Buxton Kubik Dodd Creative.


Eads Bridge

Western Specialty Contractors Restores Brick Archways Underneath Historic Eads Bridge Crossing Mississippi River

The iconic Eads Bridge crossing the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois was the first steel structure bridge of its kind in the United States when it was designed by James B. Eads and opened on July 4, 1874. A significant engineering feat for its time, the historic bridge was in desperate need of rehabilitation from decades of use, repairs and environmental exposure.

In May 2012, the Bi-State Development Agency/Metro (BSDA/Metro) launched a monumental Eads Bridge Rehabilitation project, largely funded through $34 million in federal support, which includes $25 million from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. All phases of the project are scheduled to be completed in 2016 and expected to extend the life of the bridge by 50 years. The top deck of the bridge which supports vehicle and pedestrian travel is owned by the City of St. Louis. BSDA/Metro owns the superstructure and the lower deck which is the rail deck that supports the region’s MetroLink light rail system.

The multi-faceted restoration project includes: replacement of support steel dating from the 1880's, refinishing and repainting the bridge's superstructure using a rust-inhibiting coating, upgrading the MetroLink light rail system and restoring the brick archways under the bridge that support its foundation.

St. Louis Bridge Company, a large bridge company working throughout the Midwest, hired Western Specialty Contractors, formerly named Western Waterproofing Company, as a subcontractor on the project due to Western's past expertise in bridge work.

Western's scope of work focused on restoring the bridge's brick archway supports on the Missouri side, which are located about 100 yards from the waterfront and allow roadway traffic under the bridge.

Western's work included demo of all concrete patching on the brick archways; removal and replacement of all damaged bricks; and tuckpointing of all deteriorated mortar joints.

We were contracted to remove and replace 1,256 square feet of bricks and tuckpoint 1,256 square feet of mortar joints. We ended up removing 1,824 square feet of bricks and tuck pointing 469 square feet of bricks,” said Western Department Manager, Rick Kerperien.

One of the challenges that Western's crews faced on the project included installing bricks in the overhead arches, which reach 30 feet high at their centers. Western found an innovative solution to the vertical challenge.

We overcame that obstacle by cutting wood strips and anchoring them to the arch ceilings which would hold the new bricks securely in place while being installed. Once the bricks cured, we would remove the wood strips and fill in the holes where necessary,” Kerperien said.

Western crews also had to bring in water for mixing the mortar and cleaning, and used generators for electricity on the project. Western's phase of the project was completed in four months.


Shrine of Saint Joseph

The uniquely designed Shrine of Saint Joseph is a 19th century treasure. It has withstood the test of time. The property was donated by the Biddle family as a place of worship for the German community. It was built in 1864 and when it was expanded to its present size, was the largest church in the Saint Louis area. Many say it is the church of miracles. One miracle is that the church is still open. It suffered from a loss of parishioners due to a declining neighborhood. The area changed from residential to business, primarily the trucking industry. The Shrine of Saint Joseph’s is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Due to what some call the modern-day heroes of the Shrine of Saint Joseph, “The Friends of the Shrine of Saint Joseph,” renovation of the shrine began in 1979. After years of interior renovation and some exterior work, it was decided that the next project to be undertaken was the restoration of the severely deteriorated stone work on the twin towers.

The project was intended to have all deteriorated stone patching finished with Jahn restoration mortar (Cathedral Stone.) Bid as requested, Western Specialty Contractors' St. Louis Masonry branch did submit a voluntary alternate to replace some areas with large stone soaps (not complete depth replacement.) This alternate was a cost savings to the Shrine and the Board of Directors, along with the architect, were very receptive to have natural stone reinstalled in as many locations as possible. This work was awarded to Western’s masonry branch in 2006.

Coordination with the church was imperative, as this work was to be done on towers that were located at each side of the main entry of the church. The entry could not be closed at any time, due to weekly Mass services and special church services; such as weddings and funerals.

The scope of Western’s work included restoration cleaning 15,380 square feet of brick and stone on the towers (Prosoco Heavy Duty Restoration Cleaner.) Following the cleaning, the demolition phase was started. This consisted of taking the deteriorated stone back to sound material or a minimum of two inches. All the stone on both towers was included in the scope of work. The majority of the work was installation of new stone. The total count was 1,683 individual, specially marked pieces with an average weight of 173 lbs. Western employees hoisted up the new stone and with epoxy, stainless steel pins and specially designed anchors, the new stones were installed in place. This was a tedious task due to the different configuration of architectural stone bands and profiles.

The remainder of deteriorated stone was patched using the Jahn stone patch material with color approved by the architect. This work primarily took place at areas where the stone were too large to receive new stone (console units.) Jahn was also used in the replica of the damaged and missing fleur-de-lis. Western patched the best salvaged fleur-de-lis unit, made rubber castings from this unit and then molds from the castings. From these molds, replicas were made. A total of 400 (five gallon) units of Jahn had been used by the end of the project.

After the stone repairs were completed, many different orientations of a 16 ounce lead coated copper flashing was installed. The flashing was placed on all horizontal stone exposed to the elements. Following the copper flashing installation, bird spike proofing was applied to any horizontal shelf which would allow birds to land.

The project with the Shrine of Saint Joseph was completed in April, 2008.

Point 400 “Pet Milk Building”

The uniquely designed 16-story concrete structure at 400 South Fourth Street has been dominating the St. Louis riverfront skyline since 1969. The building was formally known as the “Pet Milk Building,” the home of Pet Corporation. Its later use was the office’s for Jacob Engineering and then unfortunately, it became vacant. New ownership then desired to convert the building into luxury apartments.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a significant achievement for a building just 35 years old. The age of this structure and its exposure to the elements did show on its concrete facade. The project architects, the Lawrence Group Architects, and the general contractor, Brinkmann Constructors, requested Western Specialty Contractors St. Louis Masonry Restoration Branch assistance on providing cleaning samples for the review of best products not only to clean the structure, but to ensure no damage to the facade.

Through a number of applied samples, the procedure of cleaning all of the exterior concrete facade with two different products was decided. Prosoco 766 Prewash was applied to the window surrounds and fins at the upper elevation (white smooth concrete finish.) Then, Prosoco Light Duty Concrete Cleaner was used throughout. The cleaning procedure progressed as planned, with the difficult part being the rigging of suspended swing stages to access all areas of the concrete facade. Approximately 100,000 square feet of concrete facade was cleaned with the majority of the cleaning accomplished from multi-vertical drops with Western’s suspended swing stages used for access.

All but the lower-level entry and plaza were accessed with this method. These areas were accessed with JLG lifts. As vertical drops were cleaned, the original concrete facade revealed its brilliance. This structure, no longer office space but luxury apartments, will continue to dominate the city skyline. With the new Cardinals ball park to the west (Busch Stadium and the ballpark village) and a great view of the Mississippi river to the east and downtown St. Louis to the north, what a location to call home.