True Green Cities/Celebrating Ten Years: Restoring a Landmark Sandstone Church

Happy Earth Day!! Celebrating Ten Years!  It’s been ten years since I launched Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning, PLLC and while many things have changed, my goal to work on “greening what’s already here” continues to be met, often in places I never expected. I’ve been working on a historic church in Jamestown, NY since 2017 and this year we ramped up the exterior restoration.

What Makes St Luke’s a Landmark

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, built in 1894, is a substantial structure of rock-faced Medina sandstone that blends Late Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival elements. Designed by Boston architect, W.P. Wentworth, it has a traditional cruciform plan with a square bell tower attached to the northeast comer of the church. The tower features a clock on each face side and rounded comers topped with conical pinnacles. St. Luke’s is enhanced by an intact interior, stained glass windows, an arcaded facade (with a front porch or narthex) and stone tracery in the west facing Rose Window. Both the tower and the church have engaged corner buttresses and Gothic arches at the first and second floor levels. The belfry has a pointed arch opening on each elevation with louvers and stone tracery. A shed-roof porch (also called Narthex) projects from the front elevation (west) on North Main Street and has an arcade of half columns that support pointed arches. Above the porch is a large Rose Window with tracery. A front gabled vestry wing is located north of the church, housing a small chapel on the first floor. 

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a contributing component of the Jamestown Downtown Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Historic District was listed on the National Register in 2014. 

Preservation Program

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is embarking on a multi-phased exterior restoration to address critical structural and life safety repairs to its iconic masonry architectural features.  This project includes the targeted exterior masonry restoration of the Medina Sandstone building and the structural stabilization of potential life safety hazards from the Bell Tower, the Front Porch/Narthex, and the Front Stair. An initial existing conditions study in 2018 determined that further testing and probes should be conducted to confirm the causes of the structural deficiencies observed.  St. Luke’s received a New York State Environmental Protection Fund grant in 2019 which allowed the Church to hire a professional team in 2020 to 1) develop a probes and subsurface investigation package and 2) the restoration design work.  A team led by Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning, PLLC, Watts A+E (Buffalo), Barron & Associates Geotechnical Engineers and Trophy Point Cost Estimators all from Buffalo with Silman Structural Engineers (NYC and Detroit) and Jablonski Building Conservation (NYC) was hired.

Evaluation by the architects, conservator, structural engineer and geotechnical engineer through hands-on observations, probes and borescope review of masonry/brick exterior wall conditions identified that the brick back-up wall of the Bell Tower is separating from the Medina sandstone facing – anywhere from 1’’ to 4” on the top two floors of the Tower, presenting an immediate life safety hazard. The Front Porch/Narthex, and the Front Stair are structurally separating from the main body of the building and settling in towards the body of the Church.  Subsurface investigation determined that settling of the building components probably occurred within the first twenty years of its construction and is no longer settling at the foundation. However, water infiltration throughout the building’s roofs and walls is causing the continuous damage and further targeted settlement and cracking throughout the complex.  

The Bell Tower will require structural reattachment of the sandstone facing to the brick back-up walls and the Front Porch/Narthex with the Front Stairs will require complete reconstruction to rebuild the ineffective parapets and flashing, the settled Porch and Front Stairs (which are no longer open to the public). This spring more non-destructive evaluation will be conducted to identify and map the voids in the walls of the Bell Tower.  A construction project will begin in the fall.

True Green Cities/Celebrating Ten Years: An International Discussion on Brutalism

Celebrating Ten Years!  It’s been ten years since I launched Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning, PLLC and while many things have changed, my goal to work on “greening what’s already here” continues to be met, often in places I never expected. Two items on my bucket list – chairing an Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) Conference (I was the Chair of the 50th Anniversary APT 2018 Buffalo Niagara Conference) and editing an APT Bulletin were both achieved in the past ten years.  The APT Bulletin – Special Issue: The Next Fifty Symposium, Vol. 51, Number 1 (2020) was co-edited by myself and Jill Gotthelf, the Co-Chairs of The Next Fifty Symposium.  My specific article: “Redefining Brutalism,” discussed new ways to think about saving Brutalist heritage.

The Next Fifty – The APT Bulletin Based on the APT 2018 Conference Themes

Can we change the negative narrative surrounding brutalism and urban renewal through an activist approach to architecture and historic preservation?  As the 2018 APT conference program was being developed, many brutalist era buildings throughout the country were either facing imminent demolition or being appreciated in new ways. The conference committee wanted to explore why some buildings were in danger, while others were being remade and even applauded. Did their location matter? Did the local architects who admired the buildings have the ability to change the narrative?  A special plenary on Brutalism was one of three themed panels that kicked off the conference.

Redefining Brutalism

Why is the preservation of postwar architecture that falls under the brutalist lexicon so challenging? I asked this question and discussed its impacts on the preservation of brutalist buildings at a NationalCenter for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) symposium in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2015:

“Questions of authenticity, the use of materials such as concrete panels and concrete block, the construction of new building types like public housing, the often-misunderstood social policies of urban renewal, and maintaining some of the most energy inefficient buildings ever built are some of the issues that impact its preservation.” This paper looks at brutalist buildings and their preservation in Buffalo, Toronto, and Boston, which together amply demonstrate the complexity of saving and reusing these buildings in meaningful ways. This paper is based on the theme plenary entitled “Can We Redefine Brutalism, Post-War Architecture & Urban Renewal?” that was one of the three opening sessions at the APT Buffalo-Niagara 2018 Conference.

This article detailed case studies on Shoreline by Paul Rudolph in Buffalo, a new “heroic” approach to concrete Brutalism in Boston and rethinking concrete and postwar towers in Toronto.  Please read the article (available through JSTOR). 

True Green Cities/Celebrating Ten Years: Remaking a Federal Courthouse

Celebrating Ten Years!  It’s been ten years since I launched Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning, PLLC and while many things have changed, my goal to work on “greening what’s already here” continues to be met, often in places I never expected. In this past year my career has come full circle with involvement in federal courthouses owned by GSA (General Services Administration). I was the Regional Historic Preservation Officer for the Pacific Northwest region of GSA from 2003-2006.  I learned an enormous amount about being the client, managing the Section 106 process and collaborating with agencies and citizens who have specific interests in our land and our buildings.  In this past year I have been the preservation architect on a Design Excellence remaking of Toledo, Ohio’s federal courthouse – the James M. Ashley and Thomas W. L. Ashley U.S. Courthouse.

The Ashley

The US Courthouse and Custom House of Toledo originally known as the Federal Building was built in 1932 and listed on the National Register in 2013.  It is a monumental Neoclassical Revival Style public building, built largely of local Berea sandstone.  It is significant under National Register criterion C, significant at the local level as an example of federal architecture and of the civic design principles of the City Beautiful Movement which we see demonstrated in the way that the East façade embraces the Toledo Civic Center Mall. 

The project includes restoring and reusing the historic Ashley, while adding an “Annex” to accommodate new courts programming. To design a compatible addition, we first identified the key character defining features of the exterior, the lobbies, how the Annex connects to the Ashley, the historic ring corridors, and the lightwells. 

The Courthouse is highly intact on the exterior and quite intact in its primary interior spaces such as the courtrooms, the entrance lobbies and the corridors, although there have been alterations to the office areas throughout its history.  

Our overall design approach to this entire project is in essence based on an historic preservation approach, beginning with the full rehabilitation of the Ashley. Maintaining the historic Ashley entrance as the primary entrance to the expanded courthouse complex has affected all of our design decisions, including respecting and restoring the historic entrances and lobbies sequence, and developing the program to equally reactivate the Ashley and populate the Annex. The original classical central entrance sequence bisects the building – with entrances on both the West and East elevations.  We see a ring corridor on each floor and the rectangular lightwells on each floor through the building.  Our approach is to primarily rehabilitate the building to meet today’s programming and security needs, with focused restorations of key spaces and entry sequences and processions, following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. 

GSA’s Design Excellence

The GSA Design Excellence program seeks to achieve top-quality design talent.  The Design Excellence Program includes a streamlined two-step architect/engineer selection process and the use of private-sector peers to provide feedback to the architect/engineer of record.  The program stresses creativity. It also streamlines the way GSA hires architects and engineers, substantially cutting the cost of competing for GSA design contracts.

Three teams had reached the final step for the Ashley which was a Design/Build procurement, where each team would spend up to six months developing Schematic Design for their option.  I was invited to join the team led by Whiting-TurnerBialosky Cleveland as the Executive Architect and William Rawn Associates last January.  We were awarded the project in October and are just completing Design Development submission.  It’s an exciting team, design and project, and a delight to be working with my GSA Historic Preservation colleagues again. I traveled to Toledo the two first weekends of last March before the world was put on pause.  And now that I am fully vaccinated, I am planning my next survey trip in mid-May.  

© Copyright Barbara Campagna – True Green Cities - 2011-2013