AMERICAS SOCIETY 680 Park Avenue Upper East Side Manhattan
For the last 11 years ongoing, our firm has served as the restoration architect for this NYC and Federal-landmarked mansion, which serves as a cultural center, conference facility and headquarter offices of the Americas Society, the preeminent organization fostering economic and societal cooperation among the countries of South America.
Standing on the corner of 68th Street since 1912, this building anchors the Pyne-Davison block, the only remaining group of 6-story townhouses on Park Avenue; this block established a standard of architectural quality and decorum that was a model for the early decades of Upper East Side Development.
The design of 680 Park Ave is a refined example of the architect McKim Mead and White’s neo-classical revival style; drawing upon a diverse vocabulary of precedents spanning Greco-Roman, Italian Renaissance, English Regency and American Federalist Architecture.
Our firm authored the first comprehensive Condition Survey & Capital Improvement Report, which was the catalyst to project funding that included a grant from the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs. We were hired as the building’s architect to prepare plans and oversee construction on six phases of work resulting in a complete historic restoration of entire building: 2014 Bluestone Curb Sidewalks, Tree Pits, Areaway Gratings & Service Lift 2016 Redesigned Entrance 2019 Wood Window Replacement 2020 Slate and Copper Mansard Roofing Replacement 2021 Exterior Masonry & Stonework Repairs 2021 2021 Interior Retrofit of Art Gallery & Gallery Office
Our firm thoroughly measured and prepared the first digital as-built drawings of the building. A limited number of original plans were located at the NY Historical Society. Other plans were found in the 1925 monograph of the works of McKim Meade and White. These proved helpful in identifying missing components for which we had replicas fabricated consistent with the original design e.g. custom cast bronze light fixtures, a decorative wrought iron gate on 68th St, a half-round dormer window and standing seam copper bulkheads.
For this individual-designated landmark, every element of the construction - both in the drawn details and material samples - was subject to scrutiny and approval of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Our meetings with LPC preservationists and hearings with the local Community Board Historic District Committee were well received.
This project was coordinated with two neighboring property owners who were simultaneously renovating adjoining townhouses. To one side, a neighbor was excavating and underpinning while the other neighbor was building walls higher directly above our central staircase’s Tiffany skylight. We had to protect the neighbors’ roofs while rebuilding our 12-foot high chimneys and parapet walls at both property lines.
Access and scaffolding was complicated due to the sloping slate mansard roofs and large central skylight, requiring sheds and pipe scaffolding that would engulf the entire building.
Brick bearing wall facades with decorative marble set deep in the wall, and stacked one upon the other, precluded full replacement of stonework therefore necessitating that all ornamental repairs be made by artisans working on-site by hand. Our office spent many hours on the scaffold to guide and inspect the work, assuring accurate replication.
Layers of dirt that accumulated over a full century demanded repeated washing and gentle brushing of the brick and marble facade.
The following is a summary of the executed exterior envelope work: Slate mansard roof replaced Replacement of copper roof flashings, dormers and bulkhead cladding Fully cleaned all facades Repointed all facçade masonry Replaced cracked and eroded bricks and rebuilt chimneys Ornamental stonework repaired throughout facades and cornice Welded metal repairs and repainting at wrought iron balconies and fences Ornamental gate fabricated and installed at 68th St to match original Custom designed cast bronze portico lamps Redesigned front entrance and exit doors Installed new flagpoles on Park Ave portico and 68th St Provided security lighting at west service yard and central courtyard