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The Plus Side

We’re all so used to discussing the negatives of cast iron that it’s easy to overlook the positives. The pictures are from a facade restoration project where we’re assisting Martina Bacarella Architect. The building was constructed around 1899, and a lot of the lower-floor ornament is cast iron rather than the stone that would have been used twenty years earlier or the terra cotta that would have been used twenty years later.

Take a close look at the picture above. The molding at the bottom and the dentils at the top are incredibly sharp for 120 years of water, acid rain, freeze-thaw, clumsy maintenance work, and all the other forces that damage NYC facades. Here’s a close-up on the dentil band at the top:

Obviously the iron will look better when it’s repainted, but the geometry is the same as when it was installed. How do you support something like this? With cast-iron brackets:

That’s the main facade on the right, the exposed part of the water-table on the left and top, and the bracket partially embedded in the wall brick in the middle.

Among other points I might make, pre-fabrication is not exactly new.