I.S. 34 Richmond was designed by architect Walter C. Martin in 1934. Since first opening its doors to students in 1936, I.S. 34 has sought to create a safe and caring environment for its student body. However, years of moisture ingress began to jeopardize the school’s structural safety. Nelligan White was commissioned to examine the damage and propose a strategy for long-term flood elimination in response to these concerns.
The building is composed of a concrete-encased steel frame structure and solid brick masonry wall, with a limestone exterior veneer which extends from the water table at grade to the second floor. Foundation walls, floor slabs and roof are poured-in-place concrete. After thorough firsthand examination, our team attributed the school’s extensive water damage to previous projects’ failed attempts to resist surrounding ground water’s hydrostatic pressure against the foundation wall and cellar slab perimeters. We concluded that, as a result of these unsuccessful flood elimination strategies, the waterproofing barrier at the foundation wall was discontinuous and therefore deficient.
To correct these failings and protect I.S. 34 from future flooding, our team executed a full excavation around the perimeter of the foundation and areaway walls. This allowed full exposure and removal of the original terra cotta foundation drain pipe system; sections of which had collapsed, clogged, and become misaligned. By applying a waterproofing membrane directly to the concrete foundation wall, and continuing it over the building joint between the wall and continuous footing beneath, we made it a truly continuous barrier against water infiltration. Nelligan White’s comprehensive restoration of I.S. 34’s structural safety was necessary and successful in securing the schools ability to function as an educational asset to the community and its youth.