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Historic glass curtain wall building restored in San Francisco

Jun 12, 2015

Van-Mulder Sheet Metal revitalizes historic Hallidie Building

Hallidie Building, San Francisco
Architect
: McGinnis Chen Associates
Contractor
: Van-Mulder Sheet Metal Inc., Hayward, Calif.

1918-photo-high-res-HeritageWhen the innovative Hallidie Building of San Francisco needed restoration, the building’s owners called upon SMACNA contractor Van-Mulder Sheet Metal Inc. of Hayward, Calif., to restore it to its original glory.

Designed by architect Willis Polk and opened in 1918, the building’s revolutionary glass-curtain wall façade was one of the first in the United States. It became the progenitor of the modern glass-paned skyscrapers of today. Image_2ShermanTakata

But by the turn of the 21st century, the building envelope, along with its Gothic ornamental elements, had badly deteriorated. Its blue paint and gold gilding had faded to a dull gray. Years of wear and tear and rain and water damage had corroded the seven-story building’s window housings and the structure was deemed unsafe.

During the building’s two-year restoration, Van-Mulder Sheet Metal repaired and strengthened the sheet metal components for the building’s ornamental balconies and wealth of architectural features. Van-Mulder carefully repaired and restored hundreds of cornice elements, dental blocks, pendant boxes, panel boxes, spires, arches, and frieze panels.

TheImage_130526_037ShermanTakata existing cornice work had severely deteriorated and the city required that the restoration use as much of the original material as possible. Van-Mulder Sheet Metal restored the components used historically similar crimped galvanized steel along with zinc and lead for patching complex ornaments. Some of the metalwork was also strengthened using fiberglass.

The project required detailed recordkeeping, including identifying the specific location and condition of each of the numerous cornice elements. All cornice parts were removed from the building, catalogued, repaired or replicated, and then replaced.

Where restImage_130426_015ShermanTakataoration was not possible, Van-Mulder replicated the elements to exactly match the original. The project required removal, repair and reinstallation of about 735 sheet metal and railing components.

The company even built a custom wood-turning lathe to turn the compound radius zinc cornice.

ConsiderabImage_130526_005ShermanTakatale shop labor was required to fabricate the amazing number of architectural elements. They spent 8,500 man hours on the project.Image_4ShermanTakata

Set in San Francisco’s Financial District, the building was constructed as an investment for the University of California at Berkeley. Its decorative metal was painted the school’s colors of blue and gold. The building was named in honor of San Francisco cable car pioneer Andrew Smith Hallidie, who also sat on the university’s Board. 

Currently the office building houses the San Francisco chapters of the American Institute of Architects, AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts), the Center for Architecture and Design, and the Northern California Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.