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New York State Capitol

Great Western Stair

The firm provided full design services for the restoration of The Great Western Stair, designed by H.H. Richardson and completed under the direction of Isaac Perry in the 1890’s.  The Capitol suffered a devastating fire in 1911, and the stair was greatly damaged with smoke, fire and water deterioration.  Extensive testing was conducted to determine the various stone types and their constituents, as well as the type and level of soiling on the stones at different floor levels in the staircase.  A study was conducted to provide the client with various cleaning and restoration methods that have been determined to be the gentlest and most effective means to restore the stair to its original state. Trial cleanings using these methods were conducted and enabled the firm to make the most appropriate recommendations for cleaning. Construction documents were prepared detailing the prescribed methods for accomplishing the restoration. In addition to the stone masonry restoration, the project involved a comprehensive lighting analysis, performed in conjunction with Quantum Engineering. This includes the refurbishment of the original ca.1895-1899 brass newel posts, the veil light fixtures and the restoration of several windows; which were originally illuminated with natural light from adjacent open light courts.  The light courts were filled in the 1980’s, eliminating the natural lighting effect.  The current proposal includes the installation of patterned glass and the illumination of the windows from behind with electric light, in order to replicate the historic effect of the light shafts.

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