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Thread: Woolworth Building - 233 Broadway - by Cass Gilbert

  1. #151

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    ^
    Hopefully that'll become obvious when the park perimeter is renovated.

  2. #152

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    Quote Originally Posted by Statun-Ilandur View Post
    I used to really not like the aged and dated look of Woolworth. I remember its many restorations which must have been tedious dealing with steel beams held together with rivets and thousands of pieces of terra cotta.
    It was discussed in this thread or elsewhere: In one of the previous restorations, many terra-cotta blocks were replaced with concrete. It became noticeable after the building was cleaned in a later restoration.

    At some point, it should be corrected. I'm afraid it will take a labor-of-love by an owner willing to reach into his pockets.

  3. #153

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    Quote Originally Posted by Statun-Ilandur View Post
    There was a comment on the History channel on "America-The Story of Us" last night that made reference to the fact that close to half of all men working on early skyscrapers were either killed or disabled in the process.
    Is this really true or just something the "History Channel" felt their prestige gave them the right to claim? Personally, I think it's utter nonsense. In the spirit of Zippy the Chimp, I say: cite the source! (Not the History Channel, please!)

  4. #154

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    ^
    It's gratifying that I've whipped some of you into expert fact-finders.

    [Wipes a tear]

    To get you all going:

    5 deaths during the ESB construction. What about further back, you say? Zero deaths for the Singer Building.

    The caveat is what does the History Channel consider as disabled. A premature death from a lifetime of hard work and exposure, not specifically related to any one building?

    Source for now is ZTC. Gotta run.

  5. #155
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    I was in the building today and the floor lobbies are ENORMOUS, like 20ft.x20ft. Plus the hallways that radiate off the floor lobbies are about ten feet wide. I have never seen a scale like that on an upper floor of an office building before.

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    What was your sense of the general condition of the interiors of the building?

  7. #157
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    The floors I saw in the elevator all had the original treatments for the elevator banks. Nothing looked bad but I think it depends on who is leasing floors as far as upgrades go. Apart from the lobby, interiors looked class B.
    Last edited by stache; August 6th, 2010 at 07:36 PM.

  8. #158

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    It was discussed in this thread or elsewhere: In one of the previous restorations, many terra-cotta blocks were replaced with concrete. It became noticeable after the building was cleaned in a later restoration.

    At some point, it should be corrected. I'm afraid it will take a labor-of-love by an owner willing to reach into his pockets.

    That's a big problem, because you can't simply make a mold off the existing pieces of terra cotta and make new ones, the original models were sized an average of 10% LARGER to compensate for the shrinkage that all clay experiences as it dries and is then fired in the kiln.
    Some clays shrink less, 6-8% and some shrink a little more, perhaps 12% but 10% is about average.
    That shrinkage is the biggest problem, because a panel or block that is 30" wide if molded directly and made in terra cotta from that mold, the new cast will wind up being around 27" wide and that's considerable.

    So what has to be done is a whole new model has to be sculpted or made that to get 30" would have to be around 33," not so big a problem with plain blocks, but when you have to replace sculpted cornices, frieze panels with interlocking designs, keystones etc., the model is more difficult and time consuming to make.
    Another problem is, the original clay used in the Woolworth building is probably not even available any more at all, the mine where it was mined from could be long shut down or exhausted, or even it's location long since forgotten.
    The terra cotta company who made the pieces for the building also would have custom mixed their clay in-house to get the properties they wanted.
    I think the company was the one by the Queensboro bridge whose original 1880's office still stands on the site, boarded up and protected by alarms and a chain link fence, the whole plant is long gone, only the office building remains, but discarded broken pieces of terra cotta have been found on the land there.
    One more issue with replacements is the glaze, I think the terra cotta has a white glaze on it if I remember right, if so, they would likely have used a sort of pale yellow clay, I've never been able to find that color clay commercially available, the glaze color and formula was probably also custom mixed in-house too.

    The issue winds up being, if the damaged terra cotta is replaced with new terra cotta, how difficult will it be and how much will it cost to get a good or exact match in texture and color, I would say the new pieces would probably wind up being visibly different from the rest, the same idea as the concrete looks different from the rest, though maybe not as bad.

    Then, if there has been this much damage to the terra cotta since only 1910, and I think some of the blocks were replace with concrete in the 60s? after just 50 years, how much damage will there be in the next 50 years to what is original from 1910 and to what is replaced, now.

  9. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    The floors I saw in the elevator all had the original treatments for the elevator banks. Nothing looked bad but I think it depends on who is leasing floors as far as upgrades go. Apart from the lobby, interiors looked class B.
    Thanks for the info. I've never been inside but hope to some day.

  10. #160
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    I was hoping to sneak around more but the elevator bank I had to use only went from 19/27. The elevator cars are TINY and there are six cars for each section. The elevators are slow and I think this must be what holds the building back from trying to be A class.

  11. #161

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    This evening
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    That's the cleared site for the 99 Church Street Tower, right? Man, if this tower goes up, we will have a new skyscraper canyon there. And don't forget that the Beekman Tower is nearby!

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    Regarding the U shaped portion of Wooly's base - this design approach was quite common to high-rises of the time, but has since been replaced by a more straightforward complete square/rectangle footprint.

    I have some guesses as to the reasons for the change, but would love to hear from others who have more informed ideas than I.

  15. #165

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    I think it's because all the offices had to be near a window.

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