Award of Merit: Historic Category
Cardinal Gibbons Fine Arts Building Restoration
Submitted by Structural Preservation Systems, Inc.
The Cardinal Gibbons School
Archdiocese of Baltimore
Structural Preservation Systems, Inc.
TAMMS Industries, Inc.
U.S. Concrete Products
Originally constructed in the late 1800s, the Fine Arts Building on the Cardinal Gibbons School campus is an important historic landmark for the City of Baltimore, yet the structure was in disrepair. Formerly known as St. Mary’s Industrial School, the facility served as an institution for delinquents and orphan boys, including baseball great Babe Ruth.
With perimeter dimensions of approximately 120 x 60 ft, the three-story concrete reinforced structure has an ornamental cornice comprised of concrete. Initial inspections revealed that the cornice had severe deterioration primarily due to the existing gutter and downspout system that was non-functional. Additional deterioration was found on the concrete façade and parapet where the existing coating was no longer effective. The primary causes of deterioration were due to initial construction defects along with initial construction shrinkage cracking, failure of the existing coating and drainage systems, acidic gases predominant in metro-politan areas and the natural permeability of concrete.
The most difficult repair was the cornice. New reinforcing steel was added to the cornices due to the lack of sufficient existing steel. Plaster of Paris was used to make a mold of an existing sound section of the cornice and then fiberglass forms were developed. Several mockups were made prior to achieving the desired result, which was versatile enough to match all inconsistent field conditions of the cornice. Once the formwork was complete, the cornices were poured. Upon completion, the final project cost was less than the estimate.
Today, because of the innovative concrete repair strategies and the effort to not only salvage but also bring new life to the structure, the building stands poised to meet the demands of tomorrow’s students.