The Quarterly – Spring 2015

June 9, 2015

Check out our Spring 2015 Quarterly newsletter.



EVENT: Preservation on High: Investigation and Documentation of Monumental Historic Structures

June 9, 2015

Learn how available technological tools help to improve the collection and management of graphical and numerical information derived from building surveys.

dottyarrowLearn more and RSVP here.

DATE: June 11, 2015
TIME: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
LOCATION: Commons, 107 West Denny Way, Suite 303, Seattle, WA 98119


Preservation architects, engineers and others involved in the renovation of historic buildings agree on the importance of an efficient and thorough discovery phase. A significant part of that effort is the organized collection of building information and accurate documentation of existing conditions. Even though these discovery tasks are such a significant part of a project, the development and incorporation of tools to improve the process on site and process the resulting information has been slow to develop.

This presentation examines some components of a successful early discovery phase on monumental historic buildings and reviews some technological tools that help to improve the collection and management of graphical and numerical information derived from building surveys.


Kent Diebolt is the founder of Vertical Access and has been the principal-in-charge for most investigation, testing and inspection projects performed by Vertical Access over the firm’s 22-year history. Since the first Vertical Access project in 1992, Kent and his team have inspected numerous historically significant buildings, constructed of a wide variety of materials. He is an active participant and is a leader in professional preservation and rope access organizations.

Presented by Association for Preservation Technology NW and AIA Seattle Historic Resources Committee





Material Conditions Series Finale

June 3, 2015


Each post in this series provides an in-depth look at one of the standard conditions we encounter and document during inspections of buildings and civil structures. The full series is indexed here and is also available as a pdf download. Thanks for following along!

Part 1: Cracks and Crack Systems in Masonry
Part 2: Crazing
Part 3: Spalls
Part 4: Efflorescence and Leached Salts
Part 5: Surface Loss
Part 6: Failed Joints in Masonry
Part 7: Atmospheric Soiling and Black Crusts
Part 8: Biological Growth
Part 9: Guano
Part 10: Pack Rust
Part 11: Displacement
Part 12: Hollow Areas
Part 13: Failed Coatings
Part 14: Previous Repairs
Part 15: Glass Conditions
Part 16: Plaster Conditions
Part 17: Metal Conditions
Part 18: Wood Conditions
Part 19: Slate Conditions
Part 20: Stucco Conditions

Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse Restoration Receives Lucy G. Moses Award

June 2, 2015

On April 30, 2015 the New York Landmarks Conservancy presented their annual prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards for outstanding preservation projects in New York City.

Vertical Access is proud to have been part of the team that received recognition for the restoration of the Conrad B. Duberstein U. S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, NY.


Project Team
General Services Administration
Goody Clancy & Associates
Boston Valley Terra Cotta
Jablonski Building Conservation
Nicholson & Galloway
Preservation Design
Robert Silman Associates
Vertical Access


Learn more
The New York Landmarks Conservancy
General Services Administration
Traditional Buildings Magazine

Can you identify this building? – Series No. 4

June 1, 2015

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. 4:

These sculpted limestone panels were spotted during a tower investigation of an early twentieth-century church. You’ll need binoculars to see them in person, since they’re about 80 feet above the sidewalk.

 This church’s architect liked the building so much that he chose it as his final resting place. Where is this lovely bell tower?
Answer: Church of the Intercession, New York City. Designed by Bertram Goodhue, the Church of the Intercession was originally built as a chapel of Trinity Church on the site of Trinity’s cemetery in Harlem. Goodhue’s burial vault, sculpted by Lee Lawrie, depicts Goodhue surrounded by images of several of his most famous buildings. In the adjacent cemetery, one can find the burial monuments of John James Audubon and many other famous New Yorkers.

photo (3)

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.

Feats of Clay: Philadelphia Brick and Terra Cotta – Exhibit at University of Pennsylvania through Oct 9

May 26, 2015

by Kevin Dalton

I recently attended the opening reception for Feats of Clay: Philadelphia Brick and Terra Cotta, an exhibition on the legacy of Philadelphia’s brick and terra cotta industry at the Harvey and Irwin Kroiz Gallery, The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, curated by Frank Matero.

FeatsofClay_ScreenAnnouncementThe exhibit included artifacts from now demolished buildings designed by Philadelphia architects Frank Furness and Cope and Stewardson, brick from works by Louis Kahn as well as examples of some of the cities most underappreciated residential works such as Edgar V. Seeler’s Conkling and Armstrong House in the city’s Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood and the Morris Fleisher Residence designed by Willis G. Hale and located in the Fairmount section of the city.

Featured alongside the architectural works were interesting catalogs, brick samples and maps of past and present Philadelphia area brick and terra cotta manufactories such O.W. Ketchum, Sayre & Fisher Brick Company, McAvoy Brick (which still operates in Phoenixville, PA) and some wonderful examples of the ornamental clay products produced by Peerless Brick Company.

Having trained as a bricklayer since the age of 18, I spent several years working out of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union (Local 1 PA/DE) in Philadelphia and have grown to love the wonderful brickwork that is ubiquitous in Philadelphia. This exhibit focuses on the city’s long and storied history of brick manufacturing and the architectural masterpieces that resulted and also serves as a stark reminder of the treasures that we have lost.

For those of you who are brick enthusiasts like me, you can find some of these amazing brick and terra cotta remnants of the past for purchase at several architectural salvage stores in and around Philadelphia such as: Provenance Old Soul Architectural Salvage, Philadelphia Salvage Company and Harry Bambi Supplies.

Gallery hours are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday-Friday.  The exhibit runs through October 9, 2015.




Material Conditions Series Part 20: Stucco Conditions

April 21, 2015

Each week we’re bringing you an in-depth look at one of the standard conditions we encounter and document during inspections of buildings and civil structures. 

Part 20: Stucco Conditions

Stucco is a cementitious coating applied to masonry, wood, or metal lath as a watertight exterior finish. Historically, stucco was sometimes colored and scored to imitate stone.

Cracks through stucco scored to imitate stone masonry

Cracks through stucco scored to imitate stone masonry

Stucco conditions include cracks; sound and failed coatings; ferrous embedments; failed sealant; prior patch, crack, and replacement repairs; various types of soiling; and areas of unsecured or hollow stucco.

Unsecured stucco separating from the brick substrate

Unsecured stucco separating from the brick substrate

Stucco is particularly susceptible to water damage; historically, stucco was often whitewashed or coated with other protective finishes to prevent water infiltration. Water damage from improper detailing, poor foundation drainage, or other sources can lead to rotten wood lath or corroded metal lath and fasteners, causing stucco to separate from the substrate. Cracking due to settlement is another common stucco condition.

Failed crack and patch repairs in stucco

Failed crack and patch repairs in stucco

Click here to see all posts in this series.

Click here for an index of all posts in this series, or download a pdf of the complete series.


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