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NEWSLETTER

 

Terminal Tower Exterior Restoration Nears Completion - Cont'd

The building, one of the most elaborate skyscrapers ever constructed, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyscraper required an extremely complex exterior rehabilitation program that targeted its terra cotta elements, as well as metal and limestone units.  The main shaft of the Terminal tower is faced with Indiana oolitic limestone while the crown is cast metal, but the ornamental elements of the lower floors and the entire upper portion are made of a glazed fired clay product known as architectural terra cotta.  Using terra cotta spared the expense of laboriously carving each block from stone.  Terra cotta is also a lighter, more easily attached and, in many respects, more durable material than stone.
  

However, the Terminal Tower, which opened at the onset of the Great Depression, then went through a series of owners, never had the maintenance its exterior needed.  It also went through years when the city had severe air pollution, before the Environmental Protection Act.  Additionally, its terra cotta units were fastened to the steel structure with metal straps that corroded when joints opened to admit moisture.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terracotta  In 1952 an elaborate bracketed balcony at the base of the great arches on each side, was stripped away and replaced by a plain band of masonry.  Similar tall buildings in other cities underwent more wholesale "simplification" of their details.  Fortunately, here, patchwork instead of removal was the course of action, until the situation deteriorated to the point where numerous upper floor offices and other spaces became unusable.
  

Forest City Enterprises, one of the nation's largest urban development firms, has its headquarters in Cleveland.  http://www.forestcity.net/Pages/default.aspx  It purchased the Terminal Tower 20 years ago and utilizes much of it for offices, developing a retail center from the long abandoned rail station at its base.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_Tower


The Terminal Tower has some great interior spaces which have been, or in the process or are planned for rehabilitation.  The main lobby or portico was restored not that long ago.  The Greenbrier Suite, or former Van Sweringen city residence on the 10th-13th floors, has been freshened up and redecorated to some extent, with a more thorough rehabilitation planned.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/sets/72157594284095193/  The 36th floor Executive Offices need a tenant before rehabilitation of their grand and largely intact interiors can be undertaken.  Work is now underway on returning the 42nd floor Observation Deck back to its original character.  Soon it will be open for private tours and for use by civic groups and perhaps opened to the general public on occasion.
 

The federal and state preservation tax credits helped fund a significant portion of this multi-million dollar project.  Steven McQuillin serves as preservation consultant and Barber and Hoffman were engineers for the project.
  

The entire 15th floor and 36th floor cornices were replaced with an identically cast but much lighter weight and more durable stone-like material as part of this project.  New fasteners are now rustproof stainless steel.  Many upper level ornaments, which had disintegrated or had been removed, are now duplicated, using cast stone, architectural fiberglass and terra cotta.  Existing sound facings were coated with a new membrane that gives the appearance of stone but which, with periodic renewals, is warranted to last for many years.  With a diligent management program, the Terminal TowerÕs magnificent and dramatic, highly elegant exterior has been safeguarded for generations.

 

 

   


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