Restoring a Cross High Above Manhattan, Stone by Stone – The New York Times

August 22, 2016

In addition to repairing the outside of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, workers are reconstructing its pinnacle: a 10-foot-tall Celtic cross.

Four years ago, chunks of the church’s 141-year-old brownstone facade fell onto the roof of the adjoining Henri Bendel store. The architectural firm Ford3, the structural engineering firm Robert Silman Associates and the investigation and testing firm Vertical Access, which sends inspectors up on ropes and boatswain’s chairs, took a close look.

Their conclusion was that it was time for a full-scale restoration of the brownstone on the north tower, next to Bendel, and on the south clock tower, which is topped by the Celtic cross that symbolically conjures the church’s Scottish heritage. The project includes cleaning, restoring and releading the clear exterior windows.

Source: Restoring a Cross High Above Manhattan, Stone by Stone – The New York Times

The Quarterly – Summer 2016

July 29, 2016

Check out our Summer 2016 Quarterly newsletter


Project Highlight: 75 Livingston Street

July 20, 2016

Situated on a corner in downtown Brooklyn within the New York City designated Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, 75 Livingston Street is a 32-story steel-framed, masonry-clad residential building designed by architect Abraham J. Simberg.  It was completed in 1928 and was originally called the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Building.

Vertical Access was retained by FS Project Management to perform a hands-on investigation of the four exterior masonry façades from grade to the top of the building at the penthouse level to assist Howard L. Zimmerman Architects (HLZA) with the Façade Inspection Safety Program (Local Law 11) inspection of the building and with preparation of repair recommendations and documents. Vertical Access had previously performed the Cycle 5 Local Law inspection of 75 Livingston Street in 1999. New York City’s Facade Inspection Safety Program, like other city-mandated facade inspection ordinances and periodic inspections carried out by building owners on their own initiative, is an important means of maintaining our built environment.

At the top of this 430-foot pre-war skyscraper is a sheet metal-clad pyramidal roof and cupola. Numerous setbacks on the south and east facades are exceptional features, with the parapet at each setback distinguished by ornamental terra cotta, projecting finials, and decorative spandrels.

The lower three floors on the Livingston Street (south) and Court Street (east) façades have limestone masonry at the columns and door and window surrounds, with cast iron spandrel panels and steel windows.  Above the third floor, the exterior is clad in brick and terra cotta. The north and west façades are primarily brick with terra cotta ornament at the top of the building.

VA used industrial rope access for the condition assessment and documented representative and notable conditions observed by means of still photographs hyperlinked to annotated AutoCAD drawings, with quantities provided for each prioritized condition. Industrial rope access allowed four technicians to complete the comprehensive inspection of this monumental building in a matter of days, whereas other means of access would surely have taken weeks or even longer.

Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!

July 15, 2016

2016 is a great time to visit a national park and be part of the National Park Service Centennial celebration.  August 25th is its official birthday, and engaging events are happening yearlong.  The NPS system includes 412 cultural sites and parks including monuments, parkways, battlefields, cemeteries, and recreation areas (full list in the FAQ here) .

Vertical Access is proud of our contributions to the preservation of these National Park Service managed landmarks!

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Fire Island Lighthouse
General Grant National Memorial
Independence Hall
Lincoln Memorial
The Gateway Arch
The Easton Building / 15 State Street


Can you identify this building? – Series No. 8

July 14, 2016

Test your knowledge of historic and iconic buildings in the U.S. (and beyond!) in this series of “guess the building” blog posts.

Series No. 8:

This Romanesque Revival academic building was completed in 1893, by the Chicago firm of Patton & Fisher. It contrasts with the many (famous) modernist buildings nearby. Where is it?

Main 1

Main 2

Answer: Illinois Institute of Technology, Main Building, Chicago, Illinois. The Main Building was one of the earliest buildings constructed for the Armour Institute, a precursor to the Illinois Institute of Technology. It contrasts with the many nearby Modernist buildings by Mies van der Rohe. The entire main campus, including the Main Building, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Don’t miss another architectural challenge: subscribe to our blog by signing up with your email address in the sidebar. Click here to see all of the posts in this series.

Photos by Vertical Access.

Celebrating 50 Years of Historic Ithaca

July 11, 2016

June 20th marked the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of Historic Ithaca, one of the oldest nonprofits in New York State dedicated to historic preservation. Members of the Vertical Access team have been involved with HI in various capacities for nearly 20 years, as board members, staff, and volunteers.

Kristen Olson served as HI’s Preservation Service Coordinator before joining Vertical Access. She has been working as a volunteer on the organization’s 50th Anniversary activities, including HI’s participation in the annual Ithaca Festival Parade in June:

Kristen parade

Kristen Olson carries a sign promoting Historic Ithaca in the annual Ithaca Festival Parade

Kent Diebolt served on HI’s board of directors from 1997 to 2000. During his tenure as President from 1998 to 1999, Historic Ithaca purchased and stabilized the State Theatre, saving it from near-certain destruction.

On June 20th, HI supporters gathered at the theater to hear Alternate Acting Mayor and city Alderperson Seph Murtagh read the City of Ithaca proclamation declaring Historic Ithaca Day, honoring the organization’s long history advocating for and protecting historic places.

From the lobby steps in the restored vaudeville-era theater, Kent and other former board members spoke about the organization’s work over the past 50 years. As a visual aid, Kent brought along an enlarged copy of the notice of condemnation that was placed on the theater in 1998, demonstrating just how close it came to demolition.

Kent at state

Kent Diebolt speaks at Historic Ithaca’s 50th Anniversary celebration



Here’s to the next 50 years for Historic Ithaca!

Same City, Different Project – 19 Years Apart

June 21, 2016

Kelly Streeter took a moment on a recent job in Albany, NY to reflect on the fact that she was on-site there 19 years ago almost to the day on her first rope access project — same city, different building!

Kelly Streeter points to site of her first rope access project back in 1997.

May 2016: Kelly points to the site of her first rope access project back in 1997.


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