How Cutting Edge Technology Helped Recreate the Stella Tower's Concrete Crown

In some projects, preservation isn't just about retaining what's there, but also about putting back an element that has been forgotten to history (not always, though). This was the case at the Stella Tower in Manhattan, where as part of the building's recently completed condo conversion, JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, along with architects CetraRuddy have reinstated the dramatic Art Deco crown of Ralph Walker's 1927 design.

As revealed by the Architect's Newspaper's Fabrikator blog, the story of the restoration began when the developers noticed the building's mismatched brick parapet, prompting them to uncover historic photos of the building with its crown, which for unknown reasons had been demolished in the 1950s and '60s. A "surgical demolition" of the roof level then uncovered remnants of this crown, after which the developers were determined to restore the building to its original glory.

After tracking down original elevations of the building, the team used a combination of these drawings and a 3D scan of the crown's remains to reverse engineer the design in SolidWorks, ultimately resulting in 48 precast concrete panels supported by a complex internal steel structure. Once manoeuvred into place on the tiny rooftop, these panels were mortared together to recreate the effect of a single sculptural element.

Screenshot from video by JDS Development Group

"It doesn't get better than this, it really doesn't," says Tom Alaimo, Project Director at JDS Development Group, in a video the company created about the restoration. "You could work in this industry for thirty years and never see anything like this. Apartments will sell with or without that crown restored - for us it's important because it's what we do as a company, we go the extra mile, take the extra steps, put forth the extra effort to do the right thing." Find out more about the restoration of the Stella Tower's crowning glory at the Fabrikator blog from the Architect's Newspaper.

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Cite: Rory Stott. "How Cutting Edge Technology Helped Recreate the Stella Tower's Concrete Crown" 17 Dec 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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