Restoring a Southern Landmark Across Multiple Project Phases

Jefferson Standard Building

Greensboro, North Carolina

Terra Cotta Repair

Project Profile

Project Background

  • Exhibiting the unique qualities of America’s early skyscrapers, the Nationally Registered Jefferson Standard Building was the tallest building in North Carolina when completed in 1923
  • Working with Sutton-Kennerly & Associates (SKA) of Greensboro, North Carolina, MPS completed a detailed investigation of the facade; extensive deterioration was identified at specific projecting terra cotta cornice assemblies and the 17th-floor promenade
  • To accommodate budget constraints, a ten-year plan was initiated; the first phase addressed all potential life safety issues and worked to prove the efficacy of repair design and determine the condition of hidden structural steel supports
  • A testament to its architectural significance, the building’s main entrance corridors include a Guastavino terra cotta vault comprised of sound-absorbing ceramic tile

Project Challenges

  • Access for all elevations of projecting terra cotta and the 17th-floor promenade was accomplished using mast climbing platforms and extensive cantilevered tower assemblies to suspend swing stages
  • Many terra cotta components were replaced using precast concrete finished with an epoxy-based coating system used to replicate the original terra cotta’s granitized finish
  • Extensive coordination with local building officials was required during all phases to accommodate pedestrian bridging beneath work areas

Project Approach

  • Numerous three-piece terra cotta lintel assemblies were replaced using a single reinforced precast unit with false joints to approximate the original assembly
  • The projecting terra cotta brackets beneath the 17th-floor promenade were re-anchored and supported using custom stainless steel Cintec grouted anchors installed at a 45° angle into the main superstructure
  • To save historic terra cotta copings and accommodate new roof interfaces, all copings were removed and re-flashed
  • New reinforced liquid-membrane roofs were installed at the promenade with lead counter flashing at intersecting terra cotta projections
  • Final project was completed in seven phases rather than ten and included savings generated by using a design/restoration concept implemented in concert with SKA

“MPS and Lincoln Financial Group established a long-term relationship to repair the exterior facade of the Jefferson Standard Building. MPS exceeded all expectations in the restoration of this historic terra cotta building. Their knowledge, professionalism, and innovative approach to the challenges associated with a 90-year-old structure resulted in a very successful outcome.”

James M. Sandelli
Senior Vice President
Administrative Services, Lincoln Financial Group