Upper Manhattan Restoration Project Honored With Lucy G. Moses Award From The New York Landmarks Conservancy

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has announced the winners of the 2018 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards. Shepard Hall, The City College of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, Manhattan, is among the projects that will be recognized at the May 8th, 2018, Ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan.

The Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards are the Conservancy’s highest honors for excellence in preservation. The Awards recognize individuals, organizations, and building owners for their extraordinary contributions to the City. The Conservancy is grateful for the support of the Henry and Lucy Moses Fund, which makes the Awards possible.

“The ‘Lucys’ celebrate great preservation work and skilled preservation people,” said Peg Breen, President of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. “The awards ceremony is an exciting and moving way to understand how restoring a range of buildings contributes to the vitality of New York.”

Shepard Hall, The City College of New York

A 2018 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award honors Shepard Hall, The City College of New York, in Upper Manhattan. Shepard Hall, the monumental 1907 neo-Gothic landmark designed by George B. Post, is the historic anchor of City College. It is a picturesque structure, built of dark schist that contrasts with abundant white terra cotta, and featuring multiple turrets and towers. But, by the 1970s and 1980s, severe deferred maintenance issues and building system failures made restoration seem beyond reach, and, incredibly, partial or complete demolition an option. The Main Tower was compromised. A 30-foot high projecting bay had collapsed, and sidewalk sheds protected the public from terra cotta fragments that regularly fell off the building as the underlying steel structure had severely deteriorated.

City College (CCNY), the City University of New York (CUNY), and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) engaged Carl Stein, principal of Elemental Architecture, to explore what could be done. A plan to repair just the Tower’s upper section in the late 1980s was larger than any project previously undertaken. But its success led to some 10 construction phases across three decades. A 30-year project to restore the Shepard Hall’s grandeur has wrapped up as the College celebrates its 170th anniversary.

During design on the Tower, the initial phase was expanded to include the area of the clerestory windows of the Great Hall. Major failure was observed at the terra cotta and a subsequent analysis found that the steel structure had deteriorated severely. Construction of the first phase began in late 1989 and was complete by the end of 1991.

Based on the success of the first phase, The College and DASNY commissioned a campaign to prepare documents for the reconstruction of the rest of the Shepard Hall exterior. Step by step, the College salvaged Shepard Hall. They restored the Great Hall interior space and repaired the façade. The schist was repointed and 72,000 terra cotta units replaced with sound, substitute pieces that replicated the original color and intricate designs. Replacement aluminum windows were traded in for new wood windows with double-glazing. The stained glass was refurbished and protected, the grounds landscaped, and the Bell Tower’s bell reactivated. Once again Shepard Hall’s place as the center of campus is secure.

 

For more information, please visit www.nylandmarks.org

Photo credit: Shepard Hall, The City College of New York (photo by Elemental Architecture).

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