Award of Excellence: Historic Category
Hotel Monaco Historic Cornice Repair Project
Submitted by Smislova, Kehnemui & Associates, PA
Jayhawk Owner, LLC
(Owner at time of repair)
Smislova, Kehnemui & Associates, PA
Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc.
Marx/Okubo Associates (Owner’s Representative)
Conservation Solutions, Inc.
Santa Fe, NM
The Hotel Monaco historic cornice repair project was conducted to address a 7 ft (2.1 m) long portion of the decorative marble lower cornice which fell from the building suddenly on July 15, 2010. This historic landmark, located in Washington, DC, was formerly the original U.S. General Post Office. The project involved a series of initial investigations, specialized testing of the historic marble and mortar, installation of new hand-carved replacement cornice elements using marble from the original quarry, and other miscellaneous repairs to the marble façade in an effort to arrest detrimental water infiltration.
Water migration through cracks in the marble and exposure to numerous freezing-and-thawing cycles was determined to have caused the failure as atmospheric staining was present on over 80% of the length of the break. Two horizontal slabs of marble make up the cornice with the lower cornice (10 in. [254 mm] thick) consisting of decorative dentils and rosettes while the upper cornice (8 in. [203 mm] thick) features a decorative profile. Both slabs are essentially counter-weighted by a parapet capstone, which had to be carefully removed and reinstalled upon installation of the replacement cornice slabs. In addition to replacing the section of lower cornice that fell, two other slabs that were significantly cracked were proactively replaced.
In matching the marble, the contractor had access to slabs of the original marble that had been salvaged from another building in the area that was previously dismantled. All of the replacement cornice slabs, as well as a number of replacement rosettes, were hand-carved and stainless steel pins were embedded in epoxy to align with holes drilled into the existing surrounding marble.