Originally constructed in 1889, the Broadway headquarters of children’s media giant Scholastic, Inc. is part of the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District, listed as a National Historic Landmark. Storefronts rise in the granite base to the second floor, above which cast iron columns and sheet metal ornamentation extend from the third through tenth floors. Two gabled penthouses comprise the top two floors, below a slate tile roof.
The program was to rehabilitate and preserve, with minimal impact on building usage, the historically significant building exterior. To this end, Hoffmann Architects + Engineers oversaw the stabilization, removal, restoration, and reattachment of deteriorated brick, cast iron, and sheet metal facade elements, along with a full roof replacement. Because the fragile ornaments were composed of 120-year-old materials, their condition necessitated, in many cases, painstaking hand-restoration offsite. Extensive masonry and window rehabilitation, along with a new design scheme for the cast-iron structural system, lay the groundwork for an aesthetic overhaul that returned the building to its turn-of-the-century appearance. Twelve layers of paint were removed from intricate cast iron and tin columns, cornices, and entablatures, and a final color scheme, selected with the owner, recreated the original design.
Renovation necessitated technical proficiency with historic materials and coatings, which were closely monitored by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, as well as sensitivity to the concerns of tenants and shoppers in the highly trafficked metropolitan area.
Scholastic, Inc. subsequently retained Hoffmann Architects to provide building enclosure consultation services as part of a major interior renovation at the headquarters facility. In consultation with the interior renovation design firm, Studio Architecture, Hoffmann provided design and peer review services for rehabilitation of historic storefronts and sidewalk vaults, exterior painting, and reroofing, including reconstruction of a roof terrace dining area. Rehabilitation of the 19th century underground vaults was a challenge, as the sidewalks were constructed of massive granite paving slabs bearing directly on cast iron beams. To meet current code, the cast iron members were replaced with a new supporting steel structure and concrete deck design. Hoffmann’s strategy permitted retention and reinstallation of the historic granite, while correcting structurally deficient conditions.
For the storefronts, historic materials and styles demanded code-compliant solutions that also achieved the high preservation standards of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Hoffmann’s expertise in building enclosures proved instrumental in developing rehabilitation strategies that restored structural and waterproofing integrity, while respecting historic attributes that afford the landmark headquarters building its distinctive character.
Hoffmann was honored with the Lucy Moses Preservation Award in 2007 and has continued to provide services to Scholastic on an ongoing basis.