Guggenheim Commences New Phase in Restoration of Building



(New York City, August 31, 2005). This September, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will be sheathed in scaffolding so that the restoration of its exterior may proceed to a new stage. Once scaffolding is in place, some 12 layers of paint applied over the past 46 years will be removed and the building’s concrete surface will be revealed for the first time since it was under construction in 1959. This will allow for close analysis of the building’s surface, including hundreds of cracks that have created the need for this restoration.

Paint removal is expected to take three months, and will be completed by the end of 2005. The surface analysis will be undertaken from December 2005 through March 2006, by which time other studies of the building will be completed, such as detailed monitoring of the movement of selected cracks over an entire year; laser surveys of the exterior and interior surfaces; and minimal core drilling to gather samples of the original concrete and other construction materials. Results of these studies will be used by the restoration team to formulate an appropriate methodology to repair the cracks and ensure the building’s long-term health. The repair and repainting is expected to be completed by the end of 2007. The building is expected to remain open throughout the restoration process.

Restoration Team
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and its representative, Paratus Group, have retained an extraordinary team, representing the leading experts in their fields, to plan and implement the restoration. These are:

Preservation Architect: Wank Adams Slavin Associates LLP

Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates, PC

Mechanical Engineer: Atkinson Koven Feinberg Engineers, LLP

Construction Manager: F.J. Sciame Construction Company

Architectural Conservator: Integrated Conservation Resources

Consultant on Thermal and Moisture Migration: William B. Rose & Associates

Interior Architect: Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects

Wank Adams Slavin Associates LLP (WASA)

WASA is a prominent architectural/engineering firm in New York City with additional offices in New Jersey and Connecticut. Founded in 1889, it is a multi-disciplinary organization with architects, MEP engineers, interior designers and preservationists currently under the direction of three partners. In the late 1970s, WASA established its Department of Preservation, which is now one of the finest of its kind nationwide, with an exceptionally proficient, graduate-trained preservation staff. The group includes specialists with expertise in building pathology, materials science, water management, historic documentation, condition surveys and analysis, construction documents and estimating. WASA has been responsible for the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater, since 1989. In addition, WASA has consulted on the following Wright buildings in varying capacities: Unity Temple, the Samuel Freeman House, and the E. A. Gilmore House.

Robert Silman Associates, PC (RSA)

RSA has served as structural engineering consultants on more than 10,800 projects over its 39-year history. The firm is noted for its use of the latest technology in analysis and design of new structures, monitoring and evaluation of existing structures, and in the use of new engineering materials. RSA has been entrusted with some of our country’s most treasured architectural works, including several of Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings including Wingspread and Fallingwater. At Fallingwater, using innovative applications of structural reinforcement techniques, and at the same time preserving the historic fabric, RSA engineers were able to stop the cantilever deflection of this national landmark. The firm has designed many new structures as well for noted architects, including Steven Holl, Richard Meier, Renzo Piano, and Aldo Rossi, among many others. RSA has offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Atkinson Koven Feinberg Engineers, LLP (AKF)

AKF was founded in 1989 and today is comprised of over 200 members with offices in Arlington, New York City, Philadelphia, Princeton, Stamford, and Mexico City. It is an award-winning full service engineering firm specializing in HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire/life safety, controls, central utilities, energy management, technology, critical systems, commissioning, lighting, and sustainable design services. AKF has designed the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems for many renowned institutions, such as the American Museum of Natural History, New York; the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick; the American Museum of Folk Art, New York; the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut; and the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s preeminent architect, designed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum—his major commission in New York City—from 1943 through 1956. Built by Euclid Contracting Corporation under the direction of George N. Cohen from 1956 through 1959 at an estimated cost of $2–4 million, the Guggenheim was, when it opened, as much a marvel of construction as it was of design. The floor slab of the ramp was formed in poured reinforced concrete; most of the outer walls were made by spraying layers of Gunite (a mixture of sand and cement) from within the building, through steel reinforcements, against plywood formwork. The outer surfaces were later painted with an ivory-colored vinyl plastic skin then known as a “Cocoon.” When the building opened in October 1959, six months after Wright’s death, it created a sensation; more than 16,000 people visited it on the first Sunday after it opened its doors. In the intervening years, it has been acclaimed by architects and critics around the world as one of the greatest buildings of the 20th century. On August 14, 1990, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the museum as a landmark. At the time, it was the youngest building in the history of the city to be honored with such a designation. In 2005, the building was named to National Register of Historic Places and the New York State Register of Historic Places.

Overview of the Restoration
Much of the interior of the Frank Lloyd Wright museum was restored from 1990–92 under the direction of Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects. The present restoration will include the skylights, storefronts, windows, doors, concrete and Gunite facades and exterior sidewalk; and the climate-control and security systems. Gwathmey Siegel has been retained to propose modest modifications to the interior of the Wright building and of the 1992 tower addition that the firm designed; any approved modifications will be pursued once the restoration is completed.

The restoration has been made possible largely through the generosity of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Board of Trustees and its former Chairman, Peter B. Lewis. In summer 2004, a group of trustees donated $5 million to the restoration effort, responding to a challenge by Mr. Lewis; the previous year, Mr. Lewis had committed to match that amount 3 to 1—up to $15 million—for a total of $20 million. In July 2004, the City of New York responded to the Guggenheim’s application for restoration funds by awarding $4.5 million over two years. The money was allocated by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the City Council.


Guggenheim Public Affairs: (212) 423-3840



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