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.


Glen Oak Towers

Glen Oak Towers is a housing building in Peoria, IL that gives preference to seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. Originally constructed in 1954, the 15-story masonry structure and its attached 40-space parking garage were showing signs of deterioration and corrosion of the concrete surfaces, as well as weathering from salts and deicers brought into the garage from outside vehicles. Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL branch recently completed restoration of both structures, as two separate projects.

For the first project, Western crews restored the parking structure, located on the back side of the building. With the garage's main level and its suspended deck completely enclosed, the total floor space per level was approximately 10,000 square feet.

The garage exhibited extensive damage to its concrete decking in the form of spalling and cracking, and corrosion to its structural concrete members. Western crews performed approximately 3,100 square feet of full-depth concrete repairs (30% of the suspended deck), 550 lineal feet of structural joist repairs, 55 lineal feet of structural beam repairs, removal of 1,500 square feet of asphalt topping on the upper level and installation 825 lineal feet of gravity-fed epoxy injection.

Western crews installed shoring to support the concrete areas that were not to be removed during the restoration process. The shoring also acted as the support framework for the form work and false floor that had to be used for fall protection.

In order to keep the garage operable for tenants, Western crews performed the garage repairs in three phases. In the first phase, new concrete was installed using a concrete pump. In the second and third phases, new concrete was placed using a concrete buggy to move material through the garage. Once the concrete repairs were completed, Western crews applied a two-component, fast-cure traffic membrane on the elevated parking level.

The garage restoration project started in December, 2015 and was completed in four months.

For the second project, Western crews performed masonry restoration on the building's challenging facade. Crews performed necessary tuckpointing throughout the building and replaced over 5,000 spalled and broken bricks, which were mainly at the shelf angles. Western crews also installed new weeps along all of the shelf angles to allow water that may have penetrated the wall to drain out. Workers then re-sealed all of the shelf angles with a silicone sealant. Western crews also sealed around all newly installed windows, using a Dow Corning silicone sealant.

Due to the building having a lot of ins and outs, Western crews were required to change the sizes of the swing stages often during the masonry restoration project.

“Access was difficult since there were lower roof areas that were not connected all the way around, so we had to move the stages up and down off the roof levels as we went around the entire building,” said Western Springfield, IL Branch Manager Scott Haas. “Roof anchors needed to be installed in order to tie back the swing stages properly.”

The facade restoration project was completed in October, 2016.


One Madison Park

The Western Specialty Contractors Facades Division, based in Ridgefield, NJ, has helped to transform the discreet entrance to one of Manhattan, New York's most luxurious condominium high rise buildings into a functional work of art.


Located at E22nd Street in the Flatiron District is the entrance to an award-winning, modern high rise featuring some of Manhattan's most luxurious condominiums (prices start at $10.5 million for a three bedroom apartment and $72 million for the penthouse). Its private entrance was made up of concrete columns and spandrels with large windows covering the majority of the south elevation. Its lobby often features commissioned art work.


Western Specialty Contractors was hired by Lend Lease Project Management and Construction to install a terra cotta rainscreen system on the entrance's facade at a total cost of $1 million.


Work began on the project with a laser survey of the concrete structure. Boston Valley Terra Cotta would use the survey to custom-design a terra cotta facade for the building. Multiple trips were required by Western crews to Boston Valley's manufacturing plant in Buffalo, NY for dimension verification and revisions to the shop drawings to ensure that the system would fit a variety of conditions.


Once the terra cotta rainscreen system design was finalized and its fabrication complete, Western crews began waterproofing/insulating the building's entrance using a Sika Air-Vapor Barrier (AVB) and Roxul mineral wood insulation, hung with aluminum pins. Western then installed the rainscreen metal girt and track support system to carry the terra cotta facade, then sealed the window mullions at the perimeters.


The challenging work for Western began with installation of the decorative, vertical terra cotta fins, which were supported with a steel tube spine system outboard of the wall tiles, some of which spanned over windows from floor-to-floor to create a “floating fin” effect. The terra cotta tiles were then set on the support system at columns, spandrels, window returns, soffits, floating fins and the entrance return. The runs spanned from the sidewalk level to the top of the structure, which is approx. 65 feet tall.  Lastly, Western crews installed colored aluminum sills to complete the system.


Each terra cotta tile, which had a natural color finish, had to be meticulously installed by Western crews based on the architect's specified color pattern. Multiple site visits with the architect were required to confirm the colors and final tile placement.



Gold Coast Galleria

Western Specialty Contractors – Chicago Masonry Branch recently completed facade repairs to the Gold Coast Galleria Condominiums in Downtown Chicago, Illinois. The 34-story, residential building is constructed of exposed painted concrete slabs, shear walls, columns, balconies and an aluminum and glass window wall system. Constructed in 1991, the building's facade was showing signs of distress due to normal aging of sealants and isolated concrete distress.


Western's scope of work included: removal and replacement of unsound concrete; 100% removal and replacement of concrete-to-metal sealants; 100% removal and replacement of window glazing; rout and seal of hairline concrete cracks; installation of a new balcony coating membrane; and application of an architectural coating to all exposed concrete.


Western crews were able to access the facade for repairs by assembling seven swing stages with weights and beams around the entire exterior of the building. A system of tarps and chutes was set up below work areas to collect falling demolition debris and protect pedestrians below.


In total, Western crews applied approximately 400 square feet of an architectural coating to recoat the concrete facade surfaces.


The project was completed within nine months.



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.


The Columbian

Constructed in 2008, The Columbian is a 47-story residential skyscraper on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. The floors of the building’s seven-level parking structure were beginning to crack and the concrete was deteriorating as a result of Chicago’s harsh winters.

The Columbian’s condominium associated hired Western Specialty Contractors to repair the parking structure’s damage within an extremely tight schedule of just four weeks.

In order to meet the demands of the fast-track schedule, the engineer on the project, Thornton Tomasetti, specified that Western crews use rapid curing repair materials to complete the job. A two-part urethane sealant was used to repair other deteriorated concrete. A four-step, two-component rapid curing urethane traffic membrane system was also applied to the entire garage structure to expedite the schedule.

In addition to the application of new line striping, parking stall identification numbers were also applied to the floors and walls at each of the 232 parking stalls.

Western was able to successfully complete the project on schedule and under budget.