Track 3: For Power or For Passage: Re-envisioning Historic Industrial and Transportation Infrastructure

General Abstract

2 - The Stones Speak Again: Structural Renovation of the Hoen Lithograph Complex in Baltimore

Monday, September 24
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: BNCC-106AD

Hoen & Company, established in Baltimore in 1835, was the oldest continuously operating lithographer in the United States. The Hoen & Co. Complex, constructed from 1885 to 1963, is the only site that survives to represent the company’s long and illustrious history. Occupying a full city block, the earliest buildings in the complex were constructed for the Baxter Electric Co., which manufactured motors for street railways. From 1898-1902, the Bagby Furniture Company occupied the site until Hoen & Co. relocated to the building after their downtown headquarters was destroyed in a fire. Hoen & Co. occupied the property from 1902 to 1981.

The Senefelder lithographic process, invented in Germany in the late 18th century, allowed artists to draw directly on lithographic limestone from which prints could be made, eliminating the need for time-consuming engraving. Edward Weber and August Hoen brought the process to Baltimore and the company ultimately specialized in high-quality work that elevated the technique and art of lithographic printing. That the process is rooted in the artistic use of stone inspired the carving that adorns a main entrance, inscribed with the Latin phrase “Saxa Loquuntur,” translated as “The Stones Speak.” One of the many historic industrial, economic engines for the city, the abandoned architectural remnants of the complex, central to the East Baltimore neighborhood, are now envisioned as a focal point for the revitalization of this community. To do so, substantial challenges of structural stabilization and renovation had to be overcome.

Typical repairs to brick masonry and heavy timber resulting from failure of the exterior envelope were designed and implemented, including a series of masonry arch reconstructions and innovative stabilizations. However, undoubtedly the greatest challenge came from another intervention of nature. The soft, lightweight seeds of the Paulownia tree that were commonly used as a packing material by Chinese exporters in the 19th century, before the development of polystyrene packaging, sowed a mechanism of structural deterioration within the wythes of the exterior masonry walls. Paulownia tomentosa is extremely fast growing, is tolerant of pollution and can grow in a wide range of soil types. The tree can even survive wildfire, the roots quickly regenerating new stems, earning them the name of the "Phoenix tree.” This aggressive, invasive species, not unlike rusting steel expanding within a masonry substrate, can exert very large internal stresses as it sends its roots through the soft lime-mortar joints in the historic brick masonry construction. Sustained moisture in the exterior walls nourished widespread destructive growth. Undoing the damage required a combination of reconstruction and selective use of biocide.

Despite the great challenge presented, the Phoenix tree is perhaps a rich symbol for the rebirth of this new stimulus within the urban complex.

Learning Objectives:

Rebecca Domingue

Project Engineer
1200 Architectural Engineers

Rebecca Domingue has been with 1200 Architectural Engineers since 2015. Ms. Domingue came to 1200AE with a passion for historic preservation from the structural engineering perspective having received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Vermont. Quickly becoming well versed in the Secretary of Interior Standards for Historic Preservation and the interplay between new construction and historic structures, Rebecca’s work involves structural design and nuanced practice for a wide range of building materials and systems, from new to archaic.


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Nicole Ferran, P.E.

Senior Structural Engineer
1200 Architectural Engineers

Nicole Ferran has been at 1200 Architectural Engineers since 2013, after 16 years of experience at two other engineering firms. She has a Masters in Structural Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a Bachelors in Chemistry and Asian Studies from Williams College. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the states of California and Maryland.


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James Banta

Project Manager
National Gallery of Art

James V. Banta is a Construction Project Manager with the Office of Architecture and Engineering at the National Gallery of Art. Previously, he practiced preservation with Chambers, Murphy & Burge, A Studio of Perspectus Architecture in Akron and Cleveland, Ohio and worked for architecture and engineering firms in Washington, DC and New York, NY. James graduated from Connecticut College and has a M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.


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2 - The Stones Speak Again: Structural Renovation of the Hoen Lithograph Complex in Baltimore

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