Track 2: Materials over Time: Points of Change

General Abstract

Modern Materials: Challenges in the Details

Monday, September 24
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: BNCC- 101BG

Modern materials present unique challenges in terms of assessing performance and evaluating whether these materials can (and should) be repaired and conserved, or whether they need to be replaced. For example, some modern materials are inherently vulnerable to deterioration—or are no longer manufactured and thus, if too deteriorated to repair, are difficult to replace in kind. Modern wall systems tend to be less forgiving of water leakage than traditional masonry wall construction; responses to leakage in modern systems can be non-reversible or highly visible. Modern thin cladding present complex problems, such as hysteresis of thin stone veneer and resin panels. Issues of strength loss and anchorage deterioration are also of greater concern with modern thin claddings. The effects of material weathering may be considered desirable on traditional materials but is often less acceptable on highly machined materials typical of modern buildings.
However, not only modern materials require special consideration in preservation, but also the way in which these materials are detailed for use on modern buildings and structures—detailing that often makes it difficult to develop an effective yet non-intrusive repair. For example, the relatively flat roofs prevalent on many modern structures provide little room for incorporation of sufficient slope to drain, and greater slope (if possible to incorporate) is difficult to conceal behind shallow or non-existent parapets. Steel and glass assemblies typically do not have sufficient tolerance to permit additional separation of the metal and glass components if needed in a repair design. Modern curtain walls with single glazing do not necessarily accommodate thermal improvements without significant modification. Thin veneer claddings often rely on highly repetitious anchorage systems such as kerf anchors; failure of one anchor will likely be repeated, as the detail appears multiple times across a facade.
This presentation will illustrate a variety of materials and details used in modern buildings, the problems presented by these assemblies, and repair solutions developed. Examples will include various iconic modern historic structures that the presenter and her colleagues have investigated in recent years, and will also be drawn from the less iconic (but equally challenging) case studies presented in the monthly “Failures” column co-authored for the Construction Specifier by Deborah Slaton and David Patterson of WJE for the past two decades. The APT “Consensus Principles for Practice on Renewing Modernism” will be discussed with reference to the examples presented. This presentation is intended as a companion piece to the presentation entitled, “Modern Materials: Assessment and Repair,” presented by the author at the symposium, Renewing Modernism: Emerging for Practice, at the APT annual conference in Kansas City in November 2015.

Learning Objectives:

Deborah Slaton

WIss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

Deborah Slaton is a Principal with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates in Northbrook, Illinois, specializing in historic preservation with a focus on modern structures and materials. She has served as lead author for numerous historic structures reports, preservation studies, conservation plans, and National Register nominations, and has co-authored numerous cultural landscape studies and historical assessments. Ms. Slaton is a Fellow of the Association for Preservation Technology International, a Director of the Historic Preservation Education Foundation, and a member of the Society of Architectural Historians Heritage Conservation Committee. She is author and editor of numerous papers and publications on preservation technology.


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Chris Gembinski

Building Conservation Associates, Inc.


Chris is the Director of Technical Services for Building Conservation Associates, Inc., providing quality control and technical oversight for all BCA projects. Through his investigative work on hundreds of historic properties, he has developed extensive expertise in historic construction techniques and building systems, architectural materials, preservation design solutions, and construction management. Various aspects of his research and design have included masonry restoration, plaster restoration, historic finishes analysis, wood and metal window restoration design and stained-glass restoration. His work includes the design and management of conservation and preservation construction for: The Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, Grand Central Terminal, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Central Park Police Precinct, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and Trinity Chrch, Wall Street, as well as development ventures such as the Victoria Theater and Moynihan Station Redevelopments.


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Lorraine Schnabel

Schnabel Conservation LLC

Lorraine Schnabel is the principal and owner of Schnabel Conservation LLC, a full service materials conservation consulting firm. We work with preservation project teams to diagnose whole building and individual material deterioration problems and identify workable, practical, durable solutions. After nearly thirty years in practice as both a private conservator and as a project manager at John Milner Associates and 1:1:6 Technologies, Lorraine has developed experience with most types of building materials and historic construction systems. Her principle areas of expertise are masonry and materials analysis. She has applied her skills in the preservation of a broad range of building ages and types, from small historic houses to the Baltimore Washington Monument. Currently, she is co-chair of the APT Technical Committee for Materials, and she has served on the board of the Delaware Valley chapter of APT as well. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic works, and served in leadership roles in the Architecture Specialty Group and Conservators in Private Practice of that organization. She teaches Building Conservation to students in the College of Architecture and the Built Environment at Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia) University. Lorraine holds a BA in Geology from Pomona College and an MSc. in Historic Preservation from Columbia University.


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Modern Materials: Challenges in the Details

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