Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

A Century-Old Structure, Back to Life

Maintaining the historical integrity of a building will mean extra work, but the results are invaluable.

We’ve recently started a new one, The Hardwick, a century old building with deep roots in the heavy steel fabricating industry. We are converting it to a mixed use development of office, restaurants and retail. Because of the new design and use, we had to remove all existing interior structure, leaving only the perimeter walls in place with no structure for wind or seismic support. To safeguard, we worked with the structural engineer of record to help us design a network of shoring at both ground level to the exterior and to the basement walls of the interior.

It is also common for buildings of this vintage (and really into the 1960s) to have substantial presence of lead. Finding lead requires a careful abatement process that involves shot blasting the structure to remove the existing coatings. In places where no steel modifications will be made, we are pressure washing, then encapsulating the area with Lead Lock.

Giving these old structures a new life is rarely easy, but the vibrancy and character it returns to community makes the whole process worthwhile.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.