Award of Excellence: Historic Category
Freedom Tower Restoration
Submitted by Structural Preservation Systems, Inc.
Freedom Tower Renovation Project
Donnell, Duquesne & Albaisa, PA
Structural Preservation Systems, Inc.
Pompano Beach, Florida
CSR Rinker Materials
West Palm Beach, Florida
The Freedom Tower in Miami, Florida, a 75 year-old architectural landmark and enduring symbol of resilience in the face of adversity, was built in 1925. The seventeen-story stucco office tower is a prime example of Spanish Renaissance revival style. Between 1962 and 1974, it became Miami's "Ellis Island," where 400,000 Cuban refugees fleeing the communist regime of Fidel Castro were processed.
In 1997, a Cuban-American businessman acquired the building, with plans for a complete renovation to commemorate the Cuban refugee experience. By then, the building's aesthetics and structural elements were severely degraded, and the building was, in fact, on its way to collapse.
Restoration work started in the parking garage where testing revealed that the original concrete mix was about half of what structural concrete's compressive strength should be. Practically every beam and column in the garage, and the entire garage slab needed repair.
Overhead, partial-depth slab repairs utilized form-and-pump placement. The soffit repair included adding approximately 1" of extra concrete to the original construction. To preserve the structural integrity of the slab, work was conducted in a phased "checkerboard" manner.
Columns were also repaired using a form-and-pump technique that turned out to be extraordinary. Because 100% of the column cross-section was removed, the work required extensive shoring of the upper floors and pinning of the whole shoring assembly to the columns above.
Beam repairs were also required throughout the structure, including concrete-encased I-beams on certain floors. Many beams required full-depth replacement, and some slabs were strengthened by a composite strengthening system to withstand additional load-bearing requirements.
Miami's freedom Tower is a striking symbol not only for architectural preservationists, but also for the multitude who trace their first taste of freedom to its halls. It is also confirmation of today's technology for the repair industry to successfully complete challenging restorations of this type.