Archive for October 2011

Earthquake Analysis   Leave a comment

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Earthquake Analysis

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Preservation Architect Dennis Kowal had just surveyed the Hoboken Library exterior (with the help of the Hoboken Fire Department Ladder Truck) prior to the earthquake creating a great baseline for comparison.

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At approximately 2pm EST on August 23rd 2011, the shock wave of a  5.9 earthquake centered 40 miles north of Richmond, Virginia reached the New York City area causing a slight movement to the ground which affected different buildings and different geological formations in varying ways.

DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS was immediately deployed to the historic Hoboken Public Library to examine the structure for safe occupancy and stabilization recommendations, if required.  The public and staff experienced a severe shaking of the building for forty five seconds and books fell off shelves, paint chips came off ceilings, windows rattled loud enough to break, and chandeliers swayed.

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It was feared that these decorative five foot tall urns at the top of the three story Hoboken Library were shaken loose. Remarkably, these showed no new signs of fracture. A vertical crack in an adjacent building may have resulted from movement of the structures. Vertical cracks and reports of falling plaster just inside this same area were reported by the staff of the Library.
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There were four areas of concern.

  1. The free-standing decorative urns seen surrounding the dome may have come  loose (they didn’t)

  2. The cracks in the plaster walls may have signified a dangerous structural shift (they didn’t)

  3. The observed loose lighting fixture was indicative of a pervasive condition (it wasn’t ). and

  4. The previously noted cracks in the terracotta exterior may have deepened or reduced the attachment integrity (they didn’t)

The Hoboken Library is under restoration by DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS.  The firm helped obtain a $1.5 million grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust.

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A light fixture broke loose during the quake and separated from the original tin ceiling. In years prior, some terracotta cornice pieces disengaged and it was feared that more of the building may have rattled loose.
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The Hoboken library was the first library built in New Jersey under the 1894 General Library Act. The Italian Renaissance-style Library has served the community in the same building for 114 years.

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Posted October 21, 2011 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Historic Preservation

Earthquakes, Floods, and Wind Storms   1 comment

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Earthquakes, Floods, and Wind Storms

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caption under image Every truss was compromised in some way. Shear fractures above resulted from the roof weighing down, pushing out the bearing walls and literally pulling these bottom chords apart.

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS  have been busy making house calls after a string of disasters.  It began in January when wind and snow loads contributed to the near collapse of the sanctuary roof at the Glen Rock Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.   Dennis Kowal was asked his opinion about some hairline cracks in the plaster ceiling that had been developing over the years in a building designed by others.  After a trip through the attic truss structure,  Dennis asked everyone to leave the building because the roof structure was completely compromised.  What did he find?   Every one of the wooden roof trusses was split or fractured leaving very little holding up the gabled roof and heavy plaster ceiling which perched over the 200 worshippers.  “Either under-design or overloading caused the roof structure to fail.  This was a frightening find.  I wasn’t even sure the structure would hold me walking across it. Never was there a clearer condition for immanent danger to the occupants.  God protected everyone … this could have been catastrophic.”    Fortunately, a truss repair contractor was a member of the congregation and the church was closed for nine months while new steel trusses were slipped between the failed existing wood trusses.   The stabilized sanctuary will reopen 23 October.

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Extensive shoring and scaffolding was necessary to make the repairs without completely removing the roof.
The beautiful curved plaster ceiling of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was suspended from wooden trusses that had no remaining structural integrity.

The pastor and members of the building committee were briefed as to how the scissor trusses were failing.

 

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Posted October 12, 2011 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Historic Preservation

Wagon House Ribbon Cutting   Leave a comment

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Wagon House Ribbon Cutting

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During an October 1st ribbon cutting ceremony,  restoration architect Dennis J. Kowal AIA LEED AP and his associate Stephen Malyszka, reminded attendees that only 600 pure Dutch-style constructed barns remain in the United States and they were proud to have preserved this one.   Gratitude was expressed to the hard-working members of the Hillsborough Historic Commission, whose tenacity resulted in saving this barn from permanent deterioration.  The owner of the barn, Interstate Development, paid for the restoration as a key element of their site improvements for their new retail center.  Another larger barn on the same site awaits restoration.

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The wagon house sat idle for years. Moisture and openings led to rot and a 15 degree tilt in the structure before restoration. 
This 1790 wagon house is one among only a few remaining intact structures of its kind.
   
Artifacts recovered during the restoration include this “Private Stock-Raritan Club” whiskey bottle from Raritan, New Jersey. The hay loft with a mix of original and restoration lumber.
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Senator Kip Bateman, Hillsborough Mayor Sherre McGowan and preservation architect, Dennis Kowal are about to enter the hay loft.

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Posted October 7, 2011 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Historic Preservation