Woolworth Building

Facade restorations in progress at the Woolworth Building.

The ornate entrance of the Woolworth Building.

The Woolworth Building stands tall near City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.

233 Broadway, New York, NY 10007

Commissioned as the new headquarters for the F.W. Woolworth Company, the 57-story neo-Gothic Woolworth Building was completed in 1913. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert, it stood as the world’s tallest building until 1930. Like many other buildings of its time, the Woolworth Building was constructed primarily with terra cotta stones, which unfortunately are not a very durable façade building material. Being porous, terra cotta can absorb moisture if the glazing fails, leading to damage in the harsh freeze-and-thaw cycles of winter. Repairs performed over the years had been stopgap measures rather than lasting solutions.

After an inspection of the building envelope determined restoration work was required to meet the standards of New York City’s Local Law 11, architect and engineer Facade Maintenance Design (FacadeMD) brought on Seaboard Weatherproofing & Restoration to handle the work. Seaboard not only repaired thousands of existing terra cotta stones, but also replaced an additional 1,100 defective terra cotta stones. Four hundred of the defective stones were replaced with new terra cotta pieces and the remaining 700 broken stones were replicated with precast glazed concrete units. The joints of all copper mansard roofs were also resealed to waterproof the building for years to come. FacadeMD and Seaboard worked closely with the New York Landmarks Conservancy for approval of the precast glazed units, as well as with the New York City Department of Buildings to complete Local Law 11 inspection process.

Access to the top floors and roof presented the biggest challenge due to the configuration of the building. Seaboard developed a special temporary rigging system that provided safe access to the finial and the cone-shaped pinnacle for installation of a long-lasting liquid applied roofing system. The final color selected for the roof matches the color of green copper patina.

Please visit the Newsroom for additional information about our Woolworth Building project.

Start Date: July 2005
Phase I Finished: May 2007

Project Highlights:

  • Repairing more than 400 decorative terra cotta stones
  • Replacement of more than 700 terra cotta units with glazed precast units
  • Commissioning and installing precast glazed terra cotta units that met standards for historic and architectural accuracy

Project Team:

Architect and Engineer, Facade Maintenance Design (FacadeMD)
Restoration Contractor, Seaboard Weatherproofing & Restoration