J. WILL ROBINSON FEDERAL BUILDING
Project Confirmation Number: 9592
Entry Category Historic Restoration:
Restoration implies returning a building to its original condition. Must be listed as historic or eligible for such status.
88 West 100 North
Provo, Utah 84601
Brief description of the project:
The historic J. Will Robinson Building was saved from demolition with the Social Security Administration’s occupancy and renovation. Masonry expertise was used to preserve the original granite front entry stonework and nearby sandstone building exterior while adding a necessary ADA compliant ramp that blended into the building’s original aesthetic.
Size of Building:
Amount of Masonry Used (include all types and number of units):
57 New Granite Veneer
25 Relocated Restored Steps/Pieces
Project completion date: September 2015
Explain the project and its unique use of masonry materials and techniques:
The J. Will Robinson Federal Building was on the government’s "chopping block:" if unable to find a tenant, the historic building would be sold and likely demolished.
Fortunate for this historic building was a federal executive order requiring the government to utilize owned assets rather than leasing buildings to meet agency needs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) was identified as the perfect occupant for the J. Will Robinson Building. This solution reduced leased space, provided offices for SSA within a federally owned building, and saved the historic building from being sold and demolished.
The design/build team cared about the project’s historic nature, and worked together with the mason on even small details to ensure the building was renovated with as little impact as possible to the building’s original design.
Masonry was originally used extensively on the exterior of the historic building. The building’s sandstone exterior features a “grand” staircase leading to the main entrance. These granite stairs flanked by granite buttresses created a grand impression, but were not ADA compliant. During the renovation, an ADA compliant ramp needed to be added. The program document recommended sacrificing three feet of one of the historic buttresses to add the ramp, cutting them out and replacing them with concrete walls that were obtrusive and didn’t match the building’s original historic design aesthetic.
Our team knew there was a better solution. Working with the mason, we were able to preserve and salvage the original granite stone buttresses and staircase by moving them forward three feet. While it seems like a simple solution, the reality is that the mason had a very challenging job. Getting the original granite blocks removed and away from the historic building without damaging the original sandstone exterior took skill and precision. Luckily for our team, the lead mason had 30+ years of experience with historic granite and sandstone and used relief cuts and mortar joints to reduce impact to the original building. They were able to control the stone removal and protect the building as much as possible. This expertise resulted in very little damage to the historic sandstone structure.
To reduce environmental impact to the occupied building’s tenants during construction, the mason took steps to reduce dust. Before cutting, the large granite stones were moved away from the main building to another area on site and wet cutting was used as much as possible. When needed, the masons worked after hours to ensure the dust would not affect the tenants. Environmental impact was also reduced by salvaging the original granite stone instead of sending it to the landfill.
Moving the granite stairs forward allowed the installation of a new switchback ADA compliant ramp. Due to cost constraints, the original program called for a concrete ramp. To preserve the historic aesthetic of the building while staying within budget, the team installed stone cladding on the ramp with wrought iron railings. These materials look very similar to the original granite and blend seamlessly into the building’s original design aesthetic.
DESIGN WEST ARCHITECTS
ABSTRACT MASONRY RESTORATION
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
RAASS BROTHERS CONSTRUCTION
COLD SPRING GRANITE
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