One of our favorite projects is the rehabilitation of the most famous Art Deco building in the middle of Jersey City – The Beacon. Originally the Jersey City Medical Center, the Beacon includes 10 major high rise buildings, as well as many lower-level facilities. Original construction began in 1928, and the project wasn’t completed until 1941. Today, the Beacon is the home to multiple residential condominiums, apartments, entertainment spaces and more.
Image c/o High Rise Facilities
Because of the historical significance of The Beacon, it was important that these buildings be preserved and repurposed. In 2005, the renovation of The Beacon began, now considered the largest rehabilitation project in the country and in the history of New Jersey. The Rialto and Capitol buildings were restored first, and took a total of 4 years to complete. The cost of rehabilitating these two buildings alone was $133 million, which also makes it the largest Historic Preservation Tax Credit project in the nation.
When completing a historic renovation, especially one listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is important that the contractors and architects comply with a strict set of restoration standards in order to qualify for the applicable tax credits. The work must be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, which includes repairing and protecting original building materials and finishes.
The goal of the project was to rehabilitate The Beacon to its original state, so the execution came with many challenges.
Anthony Guglielmo of Metal Man Restoration was selected to restore the buildings’ metal work. He reached out to Coco Metals in 2007 for our help in restoring the buildings’ deteriorating architectural grilles.
To recreate the original grilles, we traced the perforated patterns of the original castings and fixtures that had deteriorated or broken over time. We then were able to completely restore the original finish and design of all the grilles in the two buildings. Some we reproduced in brass, and some we reproduced in steel. The steel grilles were finished with a proprietary 3-step process to match the brass finish by Metal Man Restoration.
In addition to the decorative perforated grilles that were required, we also provided some aluminum bar grilles with a gold anodized finish and assisted with some bronze railings.
(Click image to enlarge)
Jablonski Building Convervation, Inc. was another major player in the successful restoration. In order to comply with tax standards, the restoration project had to include the renovation of public spaces. Jablonski’s team was specifically brought in to achieve this goal.
Their job was to initiate “finishes investigations” in the interior and exterior of the public spaces such as the theater and lobbies. First, they took samples from the paint layers and/or plaster and covered them in resin. Next, they examined the samples under a microscope to find the original color and paint schemes. The last step was to find a modern paint color to match the original. Jablonski Building Conservation also repaired the art on the ceiling and the perimeter bas-relief in the main lobby.
EverGreene Architectural Arts joined the project to restore the plasterwork and to repaint most of the two buildings. They restored the following areas:
-Two‐storied tall grand lobby
-Two elevator lobbies
-All historical corridors
-Vestibule to the old auditorium
-New billiard room
-New poker room
(Click image to enlarge)
They also oversaw the rehabilitation of the terrazzo floor, brass Deco moldings, light fixtures and hand-painted elevator door mirrors.
The renovation project was considered an unqualified success. In 2009, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Historic Preservation Office awarded an Outstanding Contribution of Excellence Award to these contractors and architects and others who participated in the Rialto and Capitol Buildings.
Coco Architectural Grilles and Metalcraft is proud to have worked on this monumental restoration. Our ability to design, engineer, form and finish metal products on site allows us to participate in historical rehabilitations like that of The Beacon. For more information on metalcraft in your next historical restoration, contact us today.