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.

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First Presbyterian Church

Historic renovations present significant challenges even in predictable situations. In early 2017, Western Specialty Contractors completed an unexpected and challenging repair when lightning struck the bell tower of First Presbyterian Church in El Dorado, AR. The blast was so powerful, a piece of the steeple was recovered a block away.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the steeple features intricate terra cotta masonry dating back to the church’s original 1926 construction. Western Specialty Contractors had already restored masonry on the historic building, which is why the church leadership sought out the specialty contractor’s guidance on the delicate repair. Western’s branch offices in Little Rock, AR, and Dallas, TX led the project, leaning on their deep knowledge of both historic renovation and this unique building.

Preserving as much of the original steeple as possible was a priority for everyone involved on this project. Western crews looked beyond the immediate work to select the best processes and materials to help the church maintain its building in the future.

In addition to shattering the steeple, the lightning strike damaged the brick support structure underneath. The team removed all damaged parts of the brick support and rebuilt it,
matching it as closely as possible to the original.

After conducting a thorough search and rescue mission of the terra cotta rubble, the team evaluated each piece. Any piece that could be used again made its way back into the steeple.

To fill in the missing spaces, Western workers used GFRC. They then pinned all the pieces to the brick support and coated them to match the original surface. The whole process required meticulous measurements of both the existing steeple and the recovered pieces.

A 120-foot articulating boom lift allowed the team to set the pieces on the street first, then reassemble the steeple on the bell tower. Western set up barricades around the bell tower and the pedestrian areas below in order to allow church access for worshipers during the entire construction process.

The project was completed on time, within budget and safely.

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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.

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University of Kansas – Allen Fieldhouse

The University of Kansas Allen Fieldhouse has hosted many legendary games in it’s long history. Age and exposure to the elements had caused a number of issues to it’s limestone and brick exterior. The eastern part of Kansas has a wet and cold climate. This contributed to a build up of mold and pollution on the building’s exterior.

The old building was in need of renovation. The Ward family of Kansas City pledged more than $7 million to help with the rehab. The total scope of work involved new windows, lights, a new court, stair towers, fire alarms, sprinklers, and electrical systems in addition to the exterior work.

Western Specialty Contractors' Kansas City Branch received a contract to handle the exterior work. Working from swing stages, the Western crew applied a Prosoco’s Enviro Klean® BioKlean™ solution, allowed it to dwell on the surface for twenty minutes, and then rinsed it off with high-pressure water. A neutralizing agent was then applied. This mildly acidic afterwash not only neutralized the cleaner, but it helped to brighten the limestone.

To help keep the buildng clean, Western treated the exterior with Prosoco Sure Klean® Weather Seal H40, a masonry-strengthening water repellent. The penetrating breathable treatment keeps water out of the stone without changing it’s appearance.

Burney Institute

Established in 1854 near the banks of the Red River in a small town called Lebanon, Oklahoma, sat an abandoned, two-story brick structure that once served as a boarding school for Chickasaw Nation girls, an orphanage, then as a manual labor school where Chickasaw children learned agriculture, horticulture, homemaking, sewing, knitting, cooking and housekeeping.  Steeped in Chickasaw history, the structure, named the Burney Institute, had fallen into disrepair when it was abandoned some time after 1910.

 

In 2014-15, Chickasaw Nation officials funded a complete restoration of the historic landmark for possible use as a museum. Western Specialty Contractors – Dallas, Texas Branch was hired to tuckpoint the structure's entire brick facade, as well as re-build interior and exterior brick walls and corners, and provide structural anchoring at the cracks.

 

Restoration of the building's exterior was a challenge for Western's crews in terms of specifying modern materials that were compatible with materials used in the original construction. It was discovered that fine sands from the nearby Red River were used to make the original mortar and the bricks themselves. Western used modern technology to determine the best mortar mix for the job.

 

“We sent the mortar to a testing facility in Iowa to determine its exact makeup,” said Dallas Branch Manager Ben Grandbois. “Once we knew what it was made out of, we worked closely with a concrete and mortar company and the architect to find the most compatible material to use. We ended up using a Type O mortar as a match.”

 

Due to a limited supply of bricks, Western crews got creative and used salvaged bricks from the building's interior walls to match the existing exterior facade, as well as bricks taken from footings beneath the main floor that were replaced with structural steel supports.

 

Multiple cracks toward the bottom of the building caused by more than 100 years of ground settling were also repaired using helical anchors set into epoxy at angles to stitch the cracks prior to any wall repairs. Using an IBIX grout pump allowed Western crews to increase production on the massive tuckpointing job by 200%.

 

Experience and a little ingenuity by Western enabled crews to create the ever-so-slight concave finish on the mortar joints to match the building's original finish.

 

“The finish of the original mortar joints did not allow for the typical striking we see most commonly today,” said Grandbois. “In order to maintain the historical significance and receive approval from the Chickasaw Nation, we performed many different mock-ups. Having a very seasoned foreman on the job helped tremendously as we tried many unique approaches. We eventually settled with a flush struck joint, followed by a light rake when the mortar had cured to an exact hardness.”

 

Western was able to complete the project within 14 months, on time and within budget.  The project was completed in April, 2015.

 

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ODOT Henry Co. Stone Arch Bridges

Originally built in 1840 prior to the Civil War, 8 stone arch bridges, located on the banks of the Maumee River in Napoleon, OH, were originally destined for demolition in order to make room for a modern, single span bridge. However, The Historical Society and the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program became involved and required that 7 of the 8 bridges be rebuilt to their original condition.

Western Specialty Contractors Cleveland, OH Branch was hired to perform the masonry reconstruction of the bridges. Western crews worked closely with Miller Brothers Construction on the scope of work.

Western crews disassembled the head wall and wing walls of the structures and cataloged each stone that could be reused to ensure that it was placed back in its original position. The stones that could not be reused were replaced with Oolitic Indiana Limestone to match the morphology, color, texture and size of the original stones. Some of these pieces were 72 inches long, 16 inches tall, 24 inches deep and as heavy as 2,500 pounds. Masons were required to cut and grind them as needed in order to make them fit into the existing structure.

Some of the arch ring and head wall stones needed to be re-faced. Western crews chipped away the deteriorated limestone back to a solid surface, installed dowels and placed new pieces of limestone on the existing stone; some of which were 16 inches thick.

One structure in particular, that had been built on rough cut timbers, called for Western to disassemble the entire arch barrel and reassemble it by piecing in new blocks as needed. Once this structure was dewatered and inspected, Miller Brothers placed a form liner under the existing arch and pumped it full of concrete.

Throughout this reconstruction process, the creeks were dammed and water bypassed through pipes to allow for access to the structures. Western crews encountered major challenges during times of heavy rain as the Maumee River would rise and the creeks would overwhelm the dams and flood the work area. This occurred multiple times and required that the dams be reinstalled. There were also certain times of the year that the dams could not be in place due to certain environmental concerns.

Western followed the plans and specifications of the Ohio Historic Bridge Maintenance and Preservation Guide while rebuilding these structures.

Western appreciates and recognizes the Ohio Department of Transportation for the authorization and permission for the use of the above materials.

 

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