In the 1890s, the C.B.J. Snyder-designed, Bayard Taylor School (PS 158) opened on the Upper East Side and has since welcomed and educated generations of school children. One of hundreds of school buildings that organize and delineate New York City neighborhoods, these buildings not only serve our communities, but embody the promise of education for all.
Fast-forward a century later, add in a history of patchwork repairs and deferred maintenance, along with a fateful decision to remove – instead of repair – a monumental projecting cornice that originally graced the building, and the result was serious deterioration of the façade that spread to the interior finishes. We were commissioned by the NYC School Construction Authority (NYCSCA) to document the extent of deterioration and develop a plan for restoration.
Throughout the building, we observed water penetration and building-wide damage to interior finishes, due to a combination of modern masonry repair failures combined with the deterioration of the backup masonry and mortar that work as a “skin” to protect the building. Additionally, the removal of the original projecting cornice years ago, due to cost constraints, resulted in the unintended consequence of removing some protection from the elements, accelerating masonry deterioration. Once all the damage had been recorded and mapped, we recommended full replacement of the masonry along with stabilization and repair of all backup masonry.
All face brick was removed and replaced with new brick that replicated the original brick from the 1890s. Behind this new brick, a vapor barrier was applied and a narrow-cavity drainage plane was installed to create a protective barrier. A replica of the original cornice was installed using modern glass fiber reinforced concrete. We also replaced the roof and cleaned up selected original stonework that remained. The result is the restoration of this beautiful, Beaux-Arts style school that will be resilient for generations to come.